Oregon biomass plant project appeal denied

By | January 03, 2011

The La Pine, Ore., city council has rejected an appeal of Biogreen Sustainable Energy’s proposed 25-megawatt biomass power plant, which will allow the company to move forward with project plans.

The plant received approval from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in November and the Deschutes County Community Development Department earlier in the year.

On the appeal rejection, Biogreen President Rob Broberg said the company had already successfully addressed most of the concerns that residents of La Pine, which is located in Deschutes County in central Oregon, had regarding development of the project. “This is a big project and you’ll always have issues from people that you cannot make happy no matter what you do, but our success came when we acknowledged the issues that were being raised, and designed the plant accordingly,” he said. “People saw that we wanted to be a good neighbor and responded by approving our project.”

Broberg said that overall, the surrounding community has received the project positively. “People see the environmental and economic opportunities this project represents and have been in favor,” he said.

Biogreen is planning to use forest thinning materials from its own timberland holdings outside of the city for a portion of the plant’s annual fuel requirement of 164,000 bone dry tons (BDT). “We own a 26,000-acre parcel of land approximately 30 miles southeast of our project,” he said. “Although a part of our fuel story, our own timberland won’t have to carry much of the burden of the project. We’ll probably harvest around 25,000 BDT annually from our land.”  

The remainder of the fuel will be sourced from two recycling centers in the valley that are owned by Biogreen and handle about 200,000 BDT per year of biomass, as well as a 20-year contract with a local contractor and property owner for a significant portion of plant fuel supply around La Pine. “We have two times the fuel required to run the plant under our control,” Broberg said.

Construction of the plant will begin this spring and Biogreen is planning to take advantage of the recently renewed federal 1603 Program, which enables qualifying renewable power projects eligible for either the federal production tax credit or investment tax credit to instead elect a 30 percent project reimbursement cash grant.

The plant’s total cost will be around $75 million and will be funded through bond finance, according to Broberg.