Separated By Distance, Age

But Much In Common

You’ll notice our cover story on the Avista 53 MW biomass power plant in Kettle Falls, Wash. As the story notes, built in 1983, the Kettle Falls plant was the first utility-owned electric generating station of its kind in the U.S. constructed for the sole purpose of producing electricity from wood waste, or biomass.

“Kettle Falls stands as a tribute to a unique partnership forged 30 years ago between Avista, timber and forestry organizations, and the communities of northeastern Washington,” said Jason Thackston, Avista’s vice president for energy resources (now senior vice president) during the company’s 30-year celebration in 2013.

Avista is actually a 120-year-old company and Avista Utilities is its operating division. The Avista service territory encompasses 30,000 square miles with a population of 1.6 million. The utility generates electricity from a mix of hydroelectric, natural gas, coal, wood waste and other resources.

Needless to say, the company knows a thing or two about maintaining and upgrading a biomass power plant, but you can read the details beginning on page 14.

Also in this issue, you’ll see a much shorter news item that originates about 3,100 miles almost due east of Kettle Falls, Wash. In Ashland, Maine, ReEnergy Holdings has revealed plans to resume operations of the biomass power plant it purchased from Boralex Industries in late 2011.

The 39 MW plant was one of five in Maine and New York that ReEnergy purchased from Boralex. The Ashland plant, which has been idle since before that acquisition, is expected to start up late this year.

ReEnergy has built an impressive portfolio. It operates in six states, employs more than 300 and owns and/or operates nine biomass power facilities with a combined capacity of 325 MW. You’ll recall the article we did last year on the conversion and startup of its Fort Drum, NY facility.

Biomass Resource Image 001
From Left: Rich Donnell, Editor-in-Chief; Jay Donnell, Associate Editor; Dan Shell, Western Editor; Jessica Johnson, Associate Editor; David Abbott, Senior Associate Editor; David (DK) Knight, Co-Publisher/Executive Editor

In case you are wondering, ReEnergy Holdings LLC is part of Riverstone Holdings LLC, which is an energy and power-focused private equity firm founded in 2000. Riverstone is invested in all kinds of energy platforms. In the wood to energy sector, Enviva, the world’s largest producer of wood pellets for utility markets, is another one of Riverstone’s partners.

Avista and ReEnergy are both known for their responsible management of the substantial amount of wood fuel resource that comes into their facilities. Two companies, so far apart in distance and years, but with much in common.

—Speaking of Avista and ReEnergy, they are also both members of the Biomass Power Assn., and when I scanned through the membership directory I also came upon the names of Collins Pine, Plum Creek Timber, Simpson Lumber and Sun Mountain Lumber.

The reason these names jumped out at me is because they’re long established producers in the wood products industry who have implemented wood to energy systems and values into their operations.

They are also the kinds of companies who will be sending representatives to the upcoming Timber Processing & Energy Expo to be held October 15-17 at the Portland Exposition Center in Portland, Ore. The event is geared to the sawmill, plywood and engineered wood products industries—as in wood products manufacturing machinery—but there’s naturally a very significant wood to energy component, and that’s why “energy” is written into the name of the event.

It will be worth your while to attend.