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Another biomass plant?
Proposal would be the second facility built off Highway 66 west of Klamath Falls
by ELON GLUCKLICH, Herald and News 6/9/11

H&N Staff Reporter

Klamath Falls could have two 35-megawatt biomass facilities by 2015 following a decision by Klamath Generation LLC to modify its proposed Klamath Generation Facility project from a natural gas turbine system to a wood-waste burning facility.

The Klamath Generation Facility, scheduled for construction on Collins Products property on Highway 66 west of Klamath Falls near the junction with Highway 97, would be roughly a mile east of the planned site for another biomass facility, which is nearing final approval from the Oregon Department of Energy. Portland-based Iberdrola Renewables, the parent company of Klamath Generation LLC, has been developing the Klamath Generation Facility project since it was proposed in 2005. The original proposal would have built a 542.5-megawatt natural gas power plant.

But in modifying the request to utilize biomass instead, company spokeswoman Jan Johnson said Iberdrola would be able to increase its renewable energy production and meet increased state standards for power production.

“Utility (companies) are under state requirements to increase the amount of renewable energy in their portfolios,” Johnson said. By 2025, large energy producers are required by Oregon law to have 25 percent of their total energy portfolio from renewable resources.

Decision to modify

The decision to modify the plant from natural gas to biomass was made in conjunction with Iberdrola’s request to extend its deadline for starting construction to November 2013. It was first scheduled to build the natural gas plant in 2005. Extensions were granted in 2007 and 2009.

Johnson said those extensions were made because the company could not find enough customers in the West to buy the natural gas power it would produce.

Anders Bisgard, lead biomass developer for Iberdrola Renewables, said the switch from natural gas to biomass would allow the company to sell its energy to markets in California and Washington as well as Oregon.

“We’ve invested quite a bit of money in those permits,” Bisgard said. Changing the permit to biomass “is a way to maintain the value of our assets” while responding to Oregon state demands for more renewable energy, he said.


Officials say two biomass plants could co-exist
Two biomass facilities are in the planning stages for development along Highway 66 west of Klamath Falls.

One, developed by Iberdrola Renewables, would sit on Collins Products property.

The other, developed by Northwest Energy Systems Co., would sit adjacent to that property, farther west along the highway.

The two facilities could potentially create several hundred new jobs in Klamath County. Northwest Energy Systems says it plans to employ about 30 full-time workers when the plant is operational. Dozens of other jobs would potentially be created collecting wood waste from nearby JWTR land.

Anders Bisgard, lead biomass developer for Iberdrola, said its plant could have similar numbers of workers. He said having two biomass facilities in such close proximity wouldn’t be a problem, as there are enough resources in the area for both projects.

“I guess what I can say about that is, we’re pretty happy with our site,” Bisgard said.

He added the area around the existing Collins Products property has been zoned as a heavy industrial site for decades, and the infrastructure to build a large, energy-producing facility there is already in place.


Advocates tout economic benefits, but detractors are wary of pollution
Klamath County economic developers are touting the announcement of a second biomass plant in the county as another step toward cementing the region as an alternate energy hub.

But residents who live near the sites of the proposed facilities say biomass generation would make a bad situation worse by contributing to air quality problems in the area.

Trey Senn, executive director of the Klamath County Economic Development Association, calls the push for biomass “a smart use” of the area’s natural resources.


He’s a long-time advocate, and says the technology could bring hundreds of jobs to the region, from the workers who operate the facility to those who gather wood waste in forestlands.

And the location of the sites makes both projects a no-brainer, he said.

“What makes this such a great area is that it’s already proposed as heavy industrial. It’s got gigantic power connections, natural gas connections and it’s right on the highway,” Senn said. “We don’t even have to market this.”

But others wish the projects would go away altogether.

Dan Baker and his wife, Teena, live off Lawanda Drive, which connects to Highway 66. Dan Baker said both projects are being pushed over the objections of neighborhood residents, who fear the environmental and other impacts the plants could have.

“It’s still going to create air pollution,” Baker said, “it’s just that now, instead of having one biomass plant, we’re now going to have twice the pollutants, and twice the number of trucks on the highway.”

Those will have a markedly negative impact on the quality of life in the neighborhood, Baker said. He added he and others planned to submit comments to the Oregon Department of Energy to protest the developments.


Regional projects
The announcement that Iberdrola Renewables has modified its Klamath Generation Facility project from natural gas to biomass brings to three the total number of biomass facilities planned for development in the Klamath Basin.

Iberdrola also is the developer of a biomass plant in Lakeview. That facility, a 26.8-megawatt plant, is under construction, and could be operational by the end of 2012.

Seattle-based Northwest Energy Systems Co., meanwhile, plans to build a 35-megawatt plant adjacent to Collins Products property just outside of Klamath Falls on Highway 66.



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