Biomass Power Facilities Idle for Months

 

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"521","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"360","style":"width: 333px; height: 250px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"480"}}]]One of biomass energy’s main selling points is that it’s a baseload source of energy available 24/7, unlike solar and wind. Despite these promises--and hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies, grants and loans--several biomass power facilities across the U.S. have been sitting idle for months at a time, thanks to fires, equipment failure, and competition from cheaper energy sources.

Eagle Valley Clean Energy – Gypsum, Colorado

Eagle Valley Clean Energy, an 11.5-megawatt biomass power facility in Gypsum, Colorado began operations in December 2013, only to have its conveyor belt catch fire in December 2014.

Despite assurances from facility spokespeople that they’d resume operations within a few months, the facility is still offline as of November 2015.

While Eagle Valley’s attorney recently said they’d be up and running again by the end of the year, the Town of Gypsum might not let that happen, with town officials pointing out that the facility had been operating without a required certificate of occupancy, according to Vail Daily.

Eagle Valley has received $40 million in loan guarantees from the USDA, a portion of an annual $12.5 million matching payment for feedstock transportation from the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (part of the Farm Bill), and a $250,000 biomass utilization grant.

Gainesville Renewable Energy Center – Gainesville, Florida

The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC), a 100-megawatt biomass power facility in Gainesville, Florida, started burning wood chips for electricity on December 2013.

In August 2015, a lightning strike caused the facility to shut down temporarily, and when it became operational again, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) decided not to bring it back online. Instead, GRU has relied on power from Deerhaven Generating Station, a coal plant that is “more economic than GREC’s facility,” according to Margaret Crawford, GRU Communications Director.

GRU pays about $39 per megawatt for electricity from GREC, while GRU’s other facilities generate electricity between $22 and $36 per megawatt, according to the Gainesville Sun.

On November 4, Deerhaven shut down due to a leak in a steam-generating tube, forcing GRU to bring GREC back online temporarily. GREC was taken offline again on November 11, according to David Warm, Marketing and Communications for GRU. 

Nacogdoches Power – Nacogdoches Texas

Nacogdoches Power, a 100-megawatt biomass power facility owned by Southern Power Company in Nacogdoches, Texas, went online in June 2012, but was not operational for a total of 17 months, as of July 2015 (the most recent data by the Energy Information Administration).

Austin Energy purchases all of the power from the facility, which adds $2 a month to customers’ utility bills, according to the Statesman.

Austin Energy acknowledges the “disproportionate expense” of the facility, and doesn’t plan to extend the twenty year contract.

Aspen Biomass – Lufkin, Texas

Aspen Biomass, a 50-megawatt biomass power facility owned by NRG Energy Services in Lufkin, Texas came online in September 2011, sitting idle a total of 16 months over the next four years.

The facility shutdown was blamed on “market economics,” according to Biomass Magazine.

WE Energies – Rothschild, Wisconsin

WE Energies and Domtar Corp’s 50-megawatt biomass power facility opened in Rothschild, Wisconsin in November 2013.

After generating no electricity in October 2014, it was taken offline from December 2014 through May 2015 for repairs on the electrical generating steam turbine and leaks in the condenser tubes. During its first full year, it was operational only 16% of the time, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. During this time, the facility used more energy than it generated.

“To run the plant would have been more costly than other options like running our natural gas plant or buying power on the market,” We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said, according to Midwest Energy News.

The facility has reportedly been operational again since June 2015. 

Media Disinformation on Biomass

- by Chris Matera, Massachusetts Forest Watch 

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"468","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"346","style":"color: rgb(73, 73, 73); line-height: 20.671998977661133px; width: 425px; height: 306px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"480"}}]]Some people might call it a media failure that tree-fueled biomass energy, one of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive forms of energy that exists, has a “clean” and “green” reputation with much of the public. 

It is not a media failure, it is a media success when we acknowledge that the mainstream media does not work for the public, or for uncovering the truth about matters of importance, and has devolved into nothing but paid distributors of misinformation used to benefit their corporate masters.   

That so many can be led to believe that a drastic increase in cutting and burning of forests is going to “lower” carbon emissions, and “help” the environment, in spite of indisputable, strong scientific evidence and common sense to the contrary, is a sad testimony to this malevolent power. 

This serious problem of media disinformation at the service of wealthy and powerful interests cuts across all issues of importance to the public. If called upon to do so by their paymasters, these "presstitutes" will diligently work to convince the public of anything, even that water runs uphill.  

With biomass energy, even the label "biomass" is indicative of the spin applied to most issues today. If the public were told they are going to be forced to subsidize a massive increase of cutting and burning of forests to “help” the environment, they would likely object. 

Instead they are sold industry funded, think tank created, focus group tested fuzzy labels like “biomass” and convinced that fact is fiction, and yet again, society marches off on the exact opposite path we need to be on, in order to do the bidding of a few self serving vested interests. 

In this case, the timber and energy industries, with the crucial support of the "presstitute" media, have snookered a well intentioned public into thinking they are sacrificing to help our environment, when in fact, under a “green” fog, they are literally paying the planet wreckers to increase cutting and burning of forests, which is just about the worst thing possible for global warming, air pollution and forest protection.

Compost Chicken Manure, Don't Burn It

- by Mike Ewall, December 19, 2014, Baltimore Sun 

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"384","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"183","style":"width: 180px; height: 183px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"180"}}]]Dan Rodricks' recent column urged the new governor to get a large-scale poultry waste incinerator built on the Eastern Shore ("Larry Hogan has a chance to be a green governor," Dec. 13). This awful idea has been floated for 15 years now and has gone nowhere despite an array of government subsidies. In that time, these incinerators have been banned in Delaware and at least 10 proposals have been stopped throughout the U.S. (and several more around the world). I know because my organization, Energy Justice Network, supported most of these communities in their justified opposition. One has been built in the U.S., in Minnesota, and it was plagued by air pollution violations requiring expensive new pollution controls and was later caught burning unauthorized waste streams.

Nearly all of these incinerators are in the United Kingdom. Data presented by university researchers in Ireland at a biomass industry conference a few years ago showed that dioxin pollution from burning poultry waste was 2.6 times the legal limit in Europe. Dioxins are the most toxic man-made chemicals known to science and mainly accumulate in meat and dairy products, including contaminating poultry.

Poultry waste burning, like other forms of "biomass" incineration, releases 50 percent more carbon dioxide than coal, creating problems for global warming. Releases of several other key pollutants would also be worse than a new coal power plant, as permit comparisons have shown in North Carolina. Green Planet Power Solutions is currently being subsidized by Maryland to burn 466 tons per day of poultry litter in Somerset County and is seeking to be exempt from pollution control requirements usually in place for incinerators.

There's a reason why Exelon and other power companies aren't pursuing building these. They're prohibitively expensive and can only exist with regulatory exemptions, federal "renewable" energy tax credits and state subsidies including power purchase agreements as well as renewable energy credits in the state's incinerator-heavy "renewable" energy mandate which some are seeking to double.

A real green governor would stop throwing public money at expensive and polluting incinerator "quick fixes" and deal directly with the problem: that there is too much poultry production in one place and that the waste currently produced can and should be handled with green alternatives such as aerobic composting.

Biofuels Company Won’t Pay State of Mississippi After Bankruptcy

- January 10, 2015, Fuel Fix

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"383","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 306px; height: 285px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]Bankrupt biofuel maker KiOR and controlling shareholder Vinod Khosla say the state of Mississippi is using legal tactics in an attempt to squeeze money from the company.

KiOR, based in Pasadena, fired back Thursday at the Mississippi Development Authority’s December call to convert KiOR’s case from Chapter 11 reorganization into Chapter 7 liquidation.

“The motion reflects a continuation of the MDA’s aggressive and scorched-earth litigation in this case, which apparently is intended to extort a recovery from the debtor and the Khosla-related plan support parties,” lawyers wrote in a papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

KiOR denies MDA’s claims that it’s manipulating its case to benefit Khosla, a billionaire venture capitalist who has invested heavily in alternative energy. A new company controlled by Khosla is in line to buy KiOR’s assets, saying it will continue KiOR’s research meant to turn wood chips into a crude oil substitute.

New Report Urges Western Governments to Reconsider Reliance on Biofuels

- by Justin Gillis, January 28, 2015, New York Times

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"213","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 222px; height: 125px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]Western governments have made a wrong turn in energy policy by supporting the large-scale conversion of plants into fuel and should reconsider that strategy, according to a new report from a prominent environmental think tank.

Turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand, the report found. It added that continuing to pursue this strategy — which has already led to billions of dollars of investment — is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world’s growing population.

Some types of biofuels do make environmental sense, the report found, particularly those made from wastes like sawdust, tree trimmings and cornstalks. But their potential is limited, and these fuels should probably be used in airplanes, for which there is no alternative power source that could reduce emissions.

“I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated,” said Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization based in Washington that is publishing the report. “There are other, more effective routes to get to a low-carbon world.”

The report follows several years of rising concern among scientists about biofuel policies in the United States and Europe, and is the strongest call yet by the World Resources Institute, known for nonpartisan analysis of environmental issues, to urge governments to reconsider those policies.

Biomass Destruction Entirely Predictable

- by Matt Miller and Raymond Plouride, February 4, 2015, Chronicle Herald

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"382","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 188px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Photo: Aaron Beswick / Chronicle Herald"}}]]In a Jan. 9 story about damage to our forests as a result of the need to feed the giant new Nova Scotia Power biomass generator in Port Hawkesbury (“Biomass project raising green concerns”), Associate Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Allan Eddy suggested that these negative impacts were simply unintended consequences that “couldn’t have been predicted before the plant opened.”

This is simply wrong.

There were plenty of warnings that the proposed biomass project was too big to be sustainable and it strains the limits of credibility to suggest that the department responsible for managing our forests was unaware of the potential negative impacts.

Numerous stakeholders, individuals and experts predicted this outcome and laid out clear steps to try to mitigate the ecological damage that the advent of this huge new consumptive pressure would bring.

Dirt Cheap Clean Energy? | January issue of Energy Justice Now

Just in time, the January issue of Energy Justice Now — the national forum for the Dirty Energy Resistance — is here!

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"381","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"480","style":"width: 333px; height: 333px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"480"}}]]Inside this issue:

- Dirt Cheap Clean Energy

-  Energy Storage and Solar Inspiring Customers to Drop Utilities?

Destruction of Demand: How to Shrink Our Energy Footprint

...and more!

Please share the January 2015 issue of Energy Justice Now with your friends, colleagues, neighbors, media, and elected officials! 

Subscribe to monthly email issues of Energy Justice Now!

 

 

Concerns About Syracuse, NY Trash Incinerator Pollution

- January 6, 2015, LocalSYR

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"375","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 222px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]It’s the next step to allow trash from Cortland County to be brought into Onondaga County’s Waste to Energy facility.

Both counties’ legislatures this week have held public hearings on the so called “Ash for Trash” plan.

For two decades now Onondaga County's Waste to Energy facility has been burning trash only from Onondaga County.

The legislature is now considering changing that law to allow for trash to come in from Cortland County.

The the extra trash would allow the incinerator to meet the minimum levels of trash it handles as established in a new contract agreed to between OCRRA and the plant operator, Covanta.

Largest Ground Source Heat Pump Installation in UK Poultry Sector

- September 1, 2015, Farming Life

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"374","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 215px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]Renewable specialist TGE Group has been awarded a £1m contract to install a 1,300kW heat pump for a Shropshire poultry farmer to provide heat and cooling across four new poultry units.

On completion, the system will be the largest Ground Source Heat Pump installation in the UK poultry sector.

The project, currently in build, will be managed alongside the construction of the units to ensure the four, 50,000 bird capacity sheds are complete for late spring. The installation of five Geo Qube Ground Source Heat Pumps, manufactured specifically for the poultry industry, will deliver reactive heating and cooling to each building.

Nova Scotia Power Biomass in Cape Breton Raising Green Concerns

- by Aaron Beswick, January 9, 2015, The Chronicle Herald

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"373","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 188px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Photo: Aaron Beswick/Truro Bureau"}}]]About 2,790 hectares.

That’s a rough estimate of how much woodland will need to be cut annually to feed Nova Scotia Power’s biomass boiler at Point Tupper.

“It seems that more of the fears are coming true than the benefits we had envisioned from that facility,” said Kari Easthouse, manager of the Cape Breton Private Land Partnership.

Foresters in northern Nova Scotia are warning that the wood being burned at Nova Scotia Power’s new biomass boiler may be green, but the electricity coming out of it isn’t.