Biomass Power Could Help California’s Dying Forests

Millions of dead trees in California create a huge risk of wildfire. It’s led Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency that will require utilities, power plants and state agencies to work together. Biomass power plants can create energy from those dead trees. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, biomass plants alone […]

Millions of dead trees in California create a huge risk of wildfire. It’s led Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency that will require utilities, power plants and state agencies to work together. Biomass power plants can create energy from those dead trees. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, biomass plants alone won’t solve the crisis.

At the unloading area at Buena Vista Biomass Power facility near Ione a hydraulic lift hoists a full size big rig up in the air at a 45 degree angle. Wood chips spill out the back of the truck into a gigantic bin. John Romena, the fuel procurement manager, says the 18 megawatt plant has more than a steady supply of forest waste.

Fuel normally comes from forest thinning projects, orchard prunings, or urban yard and construction debris. But now California has millions of trees that have died from drought, disease and wildfire. Romena says he constantly hears from landowners hoping to sell their trees.

Despite the supply, 22 of California’s 50 biomass power plants are either idle or not-operating. Another nine could shut down between now and the end of next year – including Buena Vista. Utilities that have to buy renewable energy say the problem boils down to cost.

From KVPR Valley Public Radio: http://kvpr.org/post/biomass-power-could-help-californias-dying-forests?utm_source=WIT010816&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=WeekInTrees

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