Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oglethorpe Power Plans to Build Up to Three 100 Megawatt Biomass Electric Generating Facilities

Oglethorpe Power Corporation (OPC), the nation’s largest power supply cooperative, today announced plans to build as many as three 100 megawatt (MW) biomass electric generating facilities in Georgia. Designed as carbon-neutral and to utilize woody biomass, one of state’s most abundant renewable resources, the power plants will provide baseload power to OPC’s 38 member cooperatives, which supply electricity to nearly half of Georgia’s population.

“With our abundant biomass resources, Georgia has the unique opportunity to expand our use of alternative energy, grow our economy and transform the way we provide energy to our citizens,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “Oglethorpe Power’s pioneering investment in alternative energy is consistent with our goal to grow, convert, and use Biomass energy to power our homes and businesses.”

OPC has secured options for five potential sites in Appling, Echols, Warren and Washington Counties. The first two biomass power plants are scheduled to be built and placed into operation in 2014 and 2015; however which of the five sites will host the first plants is still to be determined. A third unit could also be completed and placed into service in 2015 if all elements of the plan for that facility come together on schedule.

Capital investment in the biomass plants will range from $400 million to $500 million per facility with each providing approximately 40 good paying, full-time jobs. In addition, each plant will require an annual investment of more than $30 million for fuel stock alone and will create a need for potentially hundreds of new jobs in the state’s forestry industry.

The power plants will be steam-electric generation stations using conventional fluidized bed boiler/steam turbine technology. Fuel for the plants will consist of a woody biomass mixture, including processed roundwood (e.g. chipped pulpwood), primary manufacturing residue (e.g. wood waste from sawmills) and harvest residue (e.g. wood remaining in forest after clearing). The plants will be designed to allow for the co-firing of other types of biomass, including pecan hulls, peanut shells, chicken litter and more. No fossil fuels will be used.

“With 12 million people expected to call Georgia home by the year 2030, we will need more energy to meet the demand of our growing population,” said Chris Clark, executive director of the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA). “The addition of Oglethorpe Power’s biomass electricity plants will help supply Georgians with homegrown energy that is clean and renewable.”

Employing environmentally responsible technologies, the power plants will have filter baghouses installed for reduction of particulate emissions and selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) for control of NOx. While the need for SO2 emissions controls is still being evaluated, OPC will utilize industry standard combustion practices to control carbon monoxide (CO) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). In addition, nature itself will help keep such emissions in check as the content of sulfur and mercury in wood is generally very low.

Depending on the location, water would be obtained either from onsite wells, nearby surface waters, from municipal sources or grey water from nearby industries. Each plant would be developed on a minimum of 200-400 acres of land to ensure an adequate buffer between the plant and its surroundings.
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