[NEWS] Why Biomass Facilities Can’t Turn Pot into Energy
– by Hunter Creswell, October 20, 2016, Times Standard
Every year law enforcement seizes around 100,000 marijuana plants on average in Humboldt County and that plant matter could be turned into energy if it were feasible and efficient but right now it’s not.
Redwood Community Energy, the local community choice aggregation program ran by Redwood Coast Energy Authority, is set to roll out in May of next year using more local renewable energy including mainly biomass energy before developing more local solar and wind farms.
RCEA Executive Director Matthew Marshall earlier this week told the Rio Dell City Council about plans to procure a third of the county’s electricity from biomass plants, another third from hydroelectric plants and the last third from other sources. He added that at the beginning of the program, 10 percent to 20 percent of the biomass energy will be from local plants.
Bob Marino, the general manager of the DG Fairhaven Power biomass plant in Samoa, said his and other plants generate power by burning organic material — nothing pressure treated or painted — and converting that heat into energy. The plants burn non-marketable logs, saw mill residuals and plant matter directly from forests.
“Essentially you can burn anything organic, but that doesn’t mean I would,” he said.
Marino said the ashes left over after burning the biomass at his plant are organic and that he gives them to local dairies and farms.
“My ash products are certified organic,” he said.
Marijuana can be grown organically, but there aren’t stringent regulations or oversight on black market products to ensure they actually are organic. Agents raiding grow operations often find all sorts of chemicals, both household and banned. Though it’s possible to burn cannabis in biomass plants for energy, without knowing that it’s actually organic, Marino said he wouldn’t.
“I would not jeopardize my ash program by doing that,” he said.