Biomass Cogeneration Plant Under Construction in Oregon

December 8, 2010

Iberdrola Renewables announced last month the start of construction at its 26.8-megawatt Lakeview Biomass Cogeneration Plant in Lakeview, Oregon. The Lakeview project is expected to finish construction and begin producing enough power for 18,000 typical homes by the fall of 2012. Located approximately 90 miles east of Iberdrola Renewables' existing Klamath Cogeneration Plant, the Lakeview project will be a combined heat and power, or cogeneration, facility using latest-generation technology. As at Klamath, environmental impacts will be minimized through innovative techniques. At Lakeview, the plant will be entirely air-cooled, reducing water use by more than 80% as compared to conventional water cooling. Fuel will come from logging and sawmill residues. See the Iberdrola press release.

Even as the Lakeview project was moving forward, other high-profile biomass projects were being scrapped. FirstEnergy Corp. of Ohio announced on November 17 that it was cancelling plans to repower units 4 and 5 at its R.E. Burger Plant in Shadyside, Ohio, with electricity generated principally with biomass. Instead, the company will permanently shut down the units by December 31, 2010. The Ohio utility company cited falling prices for electricity as the basis for the decision. The R.E. Burger Plant units were included as part of a 2005 federal consent settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others in a lawsuit aimed at reducing pollution. Plans had called for it to become one of the largest biomass facilities in United States by 2012. And Xcel Energy announced it had ended plans for a biomass gasification project in Wisconsin. The utility said on November 29 that it would not proceed with a project to install an alternative biomass generation technology at its Bay Front Power Plant in Ashland due to the significant increase in the estimated costs, as well a regulatory uncertainty at the state and federal level. The goal of the project was to convert the power plant’s remaining unit that uses coal as its primary fuel to a technology that would allow it to use biomass via gasification. The two other units at Bay Front already use biomass to generate electricity in a more conventional application. See the FirstEnergy press releasePDF and the Xcel press release.