Hardwood, Nippon among recipients of biomass grants

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

Port Angeles Hardwood and Nippon Industries USA are among the North Olympic Peninsula recipients of $705,000 in U.S. Forest Service grants for biomass projects.

Both have been awarded $250,000 each, the Forest Service announced this week.

The Quinault Indian Nation also received a $205,000 agency grant for a project at its tribal center in Taholah.

The companies and the Quinault tribes received three of the Woody Biomass Utilization grants awarded in Oregon and Washington state from among 20 handed out nationwide.

They will help pay for final design, permitting and cost analysis for “wood energy projects,” the Forest Service said in a statement.

Biomass cogeneration uses wood waste to create electricity and heat facilities.

Port Angeles Hardwood, which opened in 2006 and has 80 employees, has built a 40,000-pound-an-hour biomass cogeneration boiler at its 333 Eclipse Industrial Parkway site that processes steam for the plant’s dry kiln, President and CEO Lindsay Crawford of Kalispell, Mont., said Thursday.

The grant will be used to study the viability of adding a turbine to the boiler and generating electricity, Crawford said.

“We definitely could generate everything we need for our own plant,” he said.

Steam now generated at the plant would go through the turbine, then through the dry kiln, with no additional use of biomass.

“We would use the steam twice,” Crawford said.

He estimated the project would cost about $4 million and said it still needs financing.

At Nippon, the existing cogeneration plant is being expanded in a $55 million project that will be completed in April and generate 20 megawatts of electricity.

Projects slated for funding through the grant to Nippon include environmental air emission testing required by the new boiler, environmental engineering for the testing and disposition of excavated soils, design of all boiler and steam control systems and cooling-tower environmental permitting and design, said Ron Saranich, the Forest Service’s regional biomass coordinator for Washington and Oregon.

Nippon mill manager Harold Norlund said this week that workers have erected 40 feet of the new biomass boiler, and the company officials still expect an April 30 completion date.

“It’s quite unique what’s going on here,” Norlund said.

“It helps reduce forest management costs by increasing the value of biomass.”

On the Quinault reservation, which includes the village of Queets in Jefferson County, the facility will create only thermal energy for tribal members in Taholah, said Dave Bingaman, director of the Quinault Division of Natural Resources.

Among the six regional award recipients, the Quinault project ranked second, Nippon’s third and Port Angeles Hardwood’s fourth, Saranich said.

There were six regional grant applications, including three from Oregon, and all received funding, he said.

According to the grant applications, the biomass projects will create 10 permanent jobs at the Nippon plant and 15 to 20 jobs related to the removal of biomass from the forest, 11 construction jobs and five permanent jobs at Port Angeles Hardwood, and 10 permanent jobs at the Quinault Indian Nation reservation, Forest Service spokesman Reggie Woodruff said Thursday.

There are other benefits as well, Arthur “Butch” Blazer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s deputy undersecretary for natural resources and environment, said Thursday in a telephone interview.

“This creation of energy for these particular operations at Port Angeles and the Quinault reservation are going to result in utility bill savings for those operations,” he said.

Opponents of Nippon’s project and Port Townsend Paper Corp.’s $55 million cogeneration expansion project say the biomass facilities will spew tiny, toxin-laden airborne particulate matter that is unregulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Proponents say the projects follow existing EPA regulations and will produce cleaner particulate emissions than are produced at the existing facilities.

“We are going to have those arguments,” Blazer said.

“What I am looking at in utilizing biomass is, it’s 85 more efficient than coal,” he said.

“I just try to weigh what we’re doing against what is going to happen if we don’t do it.

“As we continue with our restoration efforts, continue to improve the health of our forests by removing this lower value woody material from our forests, that’s going to result in very positive things,” Blazer said.

Those things include reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires, Blazer said.

“When you look at the amount of particulates these wildfires are putting into the air, the long-term utilization of this biomass by taking advantage of these technologies is the way to go.”

Saranich said Europe has been a leader in creating pollution control technology that increasingly is being employed in the U.S. as well as technology for applying biomass cogeneration to thermal heating.

The grant for the Quinault Indian Nation will support the engineering and design phase of the tribe’s Biomass for Heat Facility thermal project, which will warm the tribal health clinic, the Department of Natural Resources/executive office complex and the tribal administrative complex.

“We are very excited about this project and are dedicated to the pursuit of clean, sustainable energy and the jobs, independence, economic vitality and cooperative relationship projects such as this help us achieve with other governments and with our neighbors,” Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp said in a statement.

Bingaman said the Quinault tribes will use operational data from a Quillayute School District cogeneration boiler in Forks.

Engineering and design of the facility will take at least a year, he added.

Roughly 3,000 to 4,000 acres out of the Quinault Nation’s 208,000 acres are in Jefferson County, including Queets at the mouth of the Queets River, he said.

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 02. 2012 6:07PM
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