Energy plant to cost up to $12 million
The Klamath Tribes’ proposed biomass energy generation facility in northern Klamath County would cost $8 million to $12 million to build.
Tribal leaders are meeting with potential partners on the project, which will be on the former Crater Lake Mill site, 25 miles north of Chiloquin.
Preliminary plans call for an 8-megawatt plant that would use a variety of biomass sources, such as woody material and solid waste from urban areas. At full capacity, the plant could provide energy for about 4,000 homes.
“The technology is really extraordinary,” said Jeff Mitchell, Klamath tribal council member.
The Tribes purchased the site in late August. They’ve designated the 108-acre parcel as the future home of the Giiwas Green Enterprise Park.
The proposed biomass facility would be the development’s main component, but it also would have other forest products-related industry, such as wood bundling services, manufacture of small diameter poles and posts and juniper products. When complete, the park would provide an estimated 200 family-wage jobs, tribal officials said.
The facility would have biomass conversion units capable of producing up to two megawatts each. Mitchell said the technology was developed in England and would allow the facility to produce energy from a variety of sources instead of just one. It costs roughly $1 million to $1.5 million per megawatt to build an energy plant, he said.
Gasification technology would be the key aspect of the plant. Woody material or other feedstock would be decomposed and 90 percent of it would become gas to drive electrical generators. The remaining material would be a solid carbon byproduct.
Tribal leaders are working with a national American Indian organization called IDRS Inc. as part of a five-tribe project designed around forests and tribal economies. The Tribes also are working with Oregon Institute of Technology and Klamath Community College to provide technical expertise and training for future employees.
Tom Chester, director of the Oregon Renewable Energy Center at OIT, is eager to work with the Tribes and has discussed the project with the Tribes’ consultant. He said there are issues still to be worked out, such as how much energy would be generated and what happens to any leftover material.
Toby Freeman, regional community manager with PacifiCorp, said his company would be open to working with the Tribes on the project, though the facility would be in the area serviced by Bend-based Mid-State Electric.
PacifiCorp spoke with the Tribes two years ago about the project and provided some financial analysis, Freeman said. The company is supportive of all renewable energy development.
“I think it’s good for all of us,” he said.