Citizen dialog for transparent process by the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange
Whole trees as biomass?
Previously I promised to come back to the subject of whole trees.
Allan Ricketts asserted in the VLCIA meeting with concerned citizens
on 10 June 2010
that the biomass plant Wiregrass LLC proposed for Valdosta will never
burn whole trees because it would be economically unfeasible for it to do so.
While I have no doubt that Col. Ricketts is acting on the best information
given to him, there are reasons to be sceptical about what will happen
in the future.
At least one other proposed biomass operator in Georgia, Oglethorpe Power,
asserts in a press release of May 7, 2009 regarding its purchase of land in Warren County, referring also to its site in Appling County and an alternative
site in Echols County:
The biomass plants will generate electricity by burning a woody biomass
mixture expected to consist primarily of whole tree chips and chipped
pulpwood, along with wood waste from saw mills and wood remaining in
the forest after clearing.
Why is it economical for Oglethorpe Power to burn whole trees but not
for Wiregrass, LLC?
NCFB and NCFA respectfully request that the Commission issue an Order
finding that wood fuel, including wood chips from whole ttreees, whqualifies
as a “renewable energy resource under N.C. Gen. Stat….
(More on that here.)
If burning whole trees is so economically feasible in North Carolina
that the NC Farm Bureau Federation and North Carolina Forestry Association
are petitioning the NC PUC to permit it, why isn’t it economically
feasible for Wiregrass LLC in south Georgia?
Now burning whole trees in itself isn’t in my mind a lot different from
using them for pulpwood.
(Although both of those uses have other issues,
which I’ll come to in later posts.)
That’s not the point.
The point is that it’s a little hard to believe that it’s not economical
for Wiregrass LLC to burn whole trees as biomass for electricity
when a variety of other organizations think it is economically feasible
and are basing business plans and PUC petitions on it being profitable.