Category Archives: wildfire
– by Anna Simet, February 7, 2017, Biomass Magazine
A proposed 2-MW biomass power project in California’s Mariposa County is one step closer to reality.
The Mariposa Biomass Project, a non-profit community group in Mariposa, California, recently closed escrow on two parcels for its future location, the group announced. It will be located in the Mariposa Industrial Park, near the Mariposa County Solid Waste Facility and PG&E substation.
The project received a USDA U.S. Forest Service 2016 Wood Innovations grant of $244,000, and is in the running to score a $5 million California Energy Commission EPIC grant. Stephen Smallcombe, the group’s CTO said that the EPIC grant is critical to the project moving forward. A similar biomass power plant in North Fork, California, currently being constructed by Phoenix Energy, was a previous EPIC grant recipient.
– by Erin Voegele, January 19, 2017, Ethanol Producer Magazine
On Jan. 19, President-elect Donald Trump nominated former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the USDA. The nomination, which is subject to U.S. Senate confirmation, represents Trump’s final cabinet selection. Perdue served as Georgia governor from 2003 through 2011.
Members of the biofuels and bioenergy industries have spoken out in response to Perdue’s nomination, indicating they look forward to working with him to continue growing biofuel and bioenergy production.
The Biomass Power Association praised Perdue’s nomination. “Under Governor Perdue’s leadership, the state of Georgia embraced bioenergy in many forms, including biomass power,” said Bob Cleaves, president of Biomass Power Association. “The agriculture secretary plays an important role in overseeing forestry on federal lands. Biomass can help enhance forest health by providing a market for hazardous fuel removal.”
[Read the opposing view to this opinion piece, “Biomass Facilities Play Important Role in Improving Air Quality,” by Bruce Springsteen, Placer County Air Pollution Control District]
– by Jana Ganion, Energy Director, Blue Lake Rancheria
“Particulate matter pollution” — air-borne particles (visible and invisible) that seep into our lungs and environment — is now a proven, dire health hazard, and an environmental harm accelerant.
We can compare the crescendo of information around the health hazards of particulate matter air pollution to the public’s awakening to — and acceptance of — the health hazards of cigarettes. In the case of tobacco, we proceeded from physicians recommending smoking, to understanding that it absolutely causes cancer.
The certainty regarding the dangers of particulate matter air pollution has reached the same point: there is no doubt it damages health — from worsening asthma, to heart and lung disease, to shortened lifespans, and death.
Just type “particulate matter health” in your favorite internet search engine and glance at recommendations from non-partisan, trusted agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, the Mayo Clinic, the World Health Organization, the Environmental Protection Agency , State of New York, and many others.
In an interesting recent article from the Wall Street Journal, “Does Poor Air Quality Hurt Stock-Market Returns?”, economist researchers from both Columbia University and University of Ottawa found that on bad-air days in New York City, when 2.5 micron particulate matter (PM2.5, invisible particles most dangerous to human health) were at high levels, stock market prices went down by ~12%. It seems that when people can’t breathe well, they get “risk averse.”
[Read the opposing view to this opinion piece, “Biomass Energy Facilities Can Worsen Air Pollution,” by Jana Ganion, Blue Lake Rancheria]
– by Bruce Springsteen, Compliance and Enforcement Manager, Placer County Air Pollution Control District
California biomass power plants provide an alternative to the open pile burning of woody forest and agricultural wastes as a means of disposal. By utilizing this significant renewable resource for clean and efficient power generation, biomass power plants avoid the significant air pollution from open pile burning and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Presently California’s 22 biomass power plants, with individual capacity ranging from 10-50 MW, produce 530 MW of renewable and reliable baseload (24/7) electricity. Much of the biomass fuel for these plants is woody waste that is the byproduct of the sustainable management of California’s highly productive: (1) fruit and nut orchards in the Central Valley, and (2) forested lands through the foothills and mountains.
Fruit and nut orchard wastes include annual tree prunings and periodic removal of over-mature trees. Forest wastes – small diameter tree stems, tops, limbs, branches, and brush – are the product of fuel hazard reduction, forest health and productivity improvements, and traditional commercial harvest. Of concern is the pending increase in forest waste supply as land managers accelerate the scale and pace of fuels treatments to reduce the risk of high severity wildfire and to return forests to fire-resilient conditions in response to tree mortality (Stevens 2016) and the overly dense fuel condition resulting from a century of successful wildfire suppression (North et al. 2015, Dombeck et al. 2004).
– by Marc Benjamin, November 28, 2016, Fresno Bee
Dead trees will continue being turned into electricity near Fresno for another five years after a biomass plant in Malaga got a contract to supply Southern California Edison.
The contract ends concerns that the facility, which employs 25 workers and has a $3.5 million annual payroll, could close soon. The plant’s contract was extended twice this year because of dead trees cut down in the Sierra.
The 24-megawatt plant was supposed to close Dec. 31 without a new contract. Utilities no longer were going to pay for electricity generation from biomass plants because the fixed price that supported the plants was expiring.
Biomass plants in Delano, Mendota, Dinuba, Terra Bella and Firebaugh have closed in recent years because of expired power purchasing agreements.
– by Nathan Solis, November 19, 2016, Redding Record Searchlight
With a stroke of a pen in September, Gov. Jerry Brown gave a five-year reprieve to workers at a biomass facility and associated lumber mill in Burney.
In signing Senate Bill 859, Brown set in motion steps that temporarily saved the biomass facility and sawmill Shasta Green from having to shut down and sending more than 80 people to the unemployment line. Assemblyman Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, amended the bill that allocates $900 million in cap and trade funds to various initiatives to also require electricity retailers to enter into five-year contracts with biomass facilities using wood harvested from fire hazard zones.