Creating Jobs and Energy in Mason County, Washington
By Tom DePonty, Director of Public Affairs, ADAGE
Is there a 21st Century clean energy opportunity stored in our nation’s forest land? In Mason County, Washington, the answer is, “Yes!”For over 150 years the communities in Mason County, Wash., have sustainably managed their abundant natural resources for lumber and forestry industries. After harvesting an area, the remaining wood residue goes unused and is left on the ground or pushed into “slash piles” and burned according to current forest management practices.
We have another idea.
ADAGE LLC, a bioenergy joint venture between AREVA and Duke Energy, would like to take that clean wood residue and convert it into electricity with a modern biomass power plant. The new plant will create more than 750 direct and indirect jobs during construction, 200+ direct and indirect jobs during operation, and 55 megawatts of electricity.
And this is not your grandfather’s biomass plant. The proposed modern facility is the difference between an old four-cylinder clunker and a new hybrid vehicle. This plant brings together the best available technology at every step of the process, from John Deere’s new low-impact bundler and the facility’s high efficiency boiler to the advanced emission controls and the water conservation processes.
For example, this power plant will produce some of the lowest emission rates of any biomass project in the U.S. and is equipped with a real-time continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMs) to ensure the plant operates well within all state and federal air quality standards.
Another benefit is the need for sustainable forest management to provide fuel for the plant. The proposed plant only runs on clean wood biomass collected after forestry operations thin or harvest the mature trees. The Washington State University Biomass Inventory estimates 2.4 million green tons of clean woody biomass are produced each year in Mason County and nearby Grays Harbor County. The ADAGE biomass plant would convert 600,000 green tons per year of this material into electricity.
So what was once an unused resource, I now see as an opportunity for Mason County to be a leader in the renewable energy industry, while protecting public health and creating jobs through modern clean energy processes.
I enjoyed speaking with the residents that attended our two Open Houses in Shelton, Wash., earlier this month and look forward to continuing the conversation and working together on this project. Comment here on the blog or send an email to [email protected].