The nation’s first biomass electricity plant using only forest fuel is one step closer to reality near Truckee.
Right now, local fire agencies trying to reduce fire danger through forest thinning and clearing just push the discarded wood into a pile and burn it. It doesn’t make sense to truck it out to a power plant, so it essentially goes to waste.
Phoenix Energy CEO Greg Stangl says he has a business model which will allow that wood to be put to better use, creating electricity.
“There is nothing more expensive than free wood in a forest. I mean we gotta go in there an get it and chip it and dry it and use it," Stragl said. “We take small power plants to where people use electricity, where the fuel is.”
Placer County has approved contracts to provide wood to a small two megawatt power plant built by Phoenix Energy. One proposed site is the Eastern Regional Landfill, two miles south of Truckee off Highway 89. Stangl says it’s the first in the nation to exclusively use fuel from forests. The plant won’t burn the wood, but will heat it, releasing hydrogen for power production. The plant will cost $12 million and is expected to be operating by early 2016.