Port Townsend Paper seeks comment on biomass ‘clean’ power plan

PORT TOWNSEND — The public can comment on a proposed state order that would clear the way for a cogeneration project using wood chips at the Port Townsend Paper mill.

The project, in which the mill’s main boiler would be converted to use waste wood from the Olympic Peninsula, is intended to generate “clean” power while cutting some emissions — although slightly increasing two others — and providing enough electricity to sell.

The waste wood would “come from the forest slash in that vicinity,” much of which is now burned in the field, said Merley McCall, manager of the industrial section of the state Department of Ecology.

“It’s better to burn it in the boiler than in the slash because we have controls on that,” McCall said.

Effect on emissions

The conversion would result in a drop in the amount of nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxides and particulate matter the mill emits, McCall said.

It would create a small increase in carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds, McCall said.

Ecology opened the public comment period Friday on its “notice of construction” and will accept written comments through Aug. 18.

Ecology also has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed order at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Fort Worden Commons, Company A.

Roger Loney, Port Townsend Paper mill senior vice president and mill manager, was not available for comment Friday.

Create jobs

In the past, mill officials have said the project would help the mill retain its existing 209 jobs while creating 108 temporary jobs.

The mill expects to begin construction by the end of the year, with the new system to be in operation by mid-2012, according to a mill brochure.

No information was available on the cost of the project, but the mill brochure said that about $10 million in pollution control equipment would be added as part of the upgrade.

Ecology’s order sets limits to such pollutants as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxides and sets carbon monoxide limits, McCall said.

“We’re putting new controls on the boiler to meet the new limits,” using reasonably available control technology, or RACT, he said.

The mill’s cogeneration plans call for the installation of a new turbine powered by steam from power boiler No. 10 and the recovery furnace.

After passing through the turbine, the remaining steam would be used to support mill operations.

Energy to sell

The mill, in a brochure, said the biomass cogeneration project would provide 200 million kilowatt-hours of alternative energy to the power grid annually.

“This is enough energy to support 15,500 homes annually,” the brochure said.

A power sales agreement is being developed, it added.

The state order, which is expected to be issued in September after public comment has been reviewed, would approve the mill’s proposed cogeneration project for producing for sale up to 25 megawatts of electricity from a renewable source, Ecology said in a prepared statement.

To sell electricity as “green power,” the mill must limit the amount of fuel oil it uses and would use less than it does now, McCall said.

“What they do use will be for start-up,” he said.

The mill has two boilers. The primary boiler would be converted to wood chips, while a second boiler runs on fuel oil, McCall said.

In October, the Port Townsend Paper Corp. mill was awarded a $2 million Renewable State Energy Program grant from the state Department of Commerce to upgrade its biomass cogeneration boiler and plant.

The state dispersed federal money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Port Townsend Paper also agreed to leverage $53 million in additional funding to match the grant.

Loney said then: “We have produced alternative energy from biomass for many years and are pleased that this project will increase our electricity generation capacity and make it available to the public.

“This project will reduce greenhouse gases and our dependency on foreign fossil fuels,” he said.

Biomass cogeneration also is being considered at the Port Angeles Nippon Paper Industries USA Ltd. paper mill, which announced in January that it was conducting a feasibility study on a $50 million cogeneration plant using slash.

Air emission limits and other requirements the Port Townsend Paper mill must meet are included in the proposed order and would be incorporated into the mill’s air operating permit when the cogeneration project is completed and operating.

The proposed order for the Port Townsend Paper mill is posted on Ecology’s website at www.ecy.wa.gov.

Copies are available at the Port Townsend Library, 1220 Lawrence St.

Written comments can be mailed, e-mailed or faxed to Ecology.

Mail comments to Marc Heffner, Department of Ecology, Industrial Section, P.O. Box 47706, Olympia, WA 98504-7706.

E-mail comments to Mhef461@ecy.wa.gov or fax them to 360-407-6102.

Ecology officials said they will read the comments and determine if any changes to the proposed order are needed. The comments and responses will be completed and available to the public when a decision on the order is made.


Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or leah.leach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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