Connecticut power plant plans wood biomass integration

By Bryan Sims
Princeton, N.J.-based power generation company NRG Energy Inc. announced its intention to use woody biomass as a fuel source at its Montville Generating Station in Uncasville, Conn. The biomass-based energy would provide approximately 30 megawatts of the unit's annual 82-megawatt electrical generating capacity.

NRG intends to use wood chips and other woody biomass to cogenerate electricity currently being produced with oil and natural gas. According to NRG spokeswoman Lourie Newman, the company expects to begin integrating biomass into the Uncasville facility in mid-2011.

This would be its fourth "Repowering NRG" project in Connecticut. The initiatives aim to integrate renewable and sustainable power sources at NRG's 48 plants across the U.S. The company has a total generation capacity of approximately 24,000 megawatts.

According to Michael Liebelson, NRG chief development officer of low-carbon technology, finding ways to reduce the carbon footprint of its existing electrical generation plants is what prompted the company to incorporate biomass as a fuel source. "When this biomass project comes on line, it will be another step in helping Connecticut reach its goal of creating 20 percent Class 1 renewable power generation by 2020," he said. "In addition to providing clean, renewable energy to Connecticut residents, we are obtaining the biomass from nearby foresters and sawmills, which will provide economic benefits to the region."

In mid-2008, NRG added 40 megawatts of ultra-low-sulfur-diesel-based power generation at its Cos Cob site in Fairfield County, Conn., bringing the plant's total output to 100 megawatts, while reducing overall emissions from the site.