Category Archives: natural gas

[NEWS] Northern Michigan University Explains Why Biomass Heating Facility Is Idle

– by Julie Williams, February 8, 2018, WLUC


Photo: Julie Williams / WLUC

The Ripley plant at Northern Michigan University supplies steam to most of campus and plays a critical part in keeping Northern and its students comfortable.

“We provide all of the heat to all the buildings that don’t have their own boilers and it heats water, it heats air and also provides some steam for humidification,” said Gisele Duehring, Associate Director of Facilities.

Ripley expanded with a biomass plant in 2012 and 2013 that cost roughly 16 million dollars but right now it is not being used.

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[NEWS] White House Decarbonization Report Addresses Bioenergy

– by Erin Voegele, November 16, 2016, Biomass Magazine

whitehouse_decarbonizationThe White House has published a mid-century strategy on decarbonization that addresses biofuels and bioenergy. On Nov. 16, the report was filed with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change under the Paris climate deal.

The White House committed to release the strategy, titled “United States Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization,” in March. At that time, the administration made a joint statement with Canada that indicated the two countries would work together to implement the Paris agreement as soon as feasible. In addition to implementing their respective Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, the leaders of both countries also committed to completing mid-century, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies pursuant to the agreement.

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[EXCLUSIVE] The Future of Biomass Energy in Vermont

– by Josh Schlossberg, October 14, 2016, The Vermont Independent

Vermont’s 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP) aims for a statewide transition to ninety percent renewable energy by 2050 while “virtually eliminating reliance on oil.”

To help reach these goals, the state seeks to cut energy consumption by fifteen percent by 2015 and by over one-third by 2050 through efficiency and conservation measures.

Within ten years Vermont hopes to procure twenty-five percent of its energy from renewables, with forty percent by 2035. For 2025, the breakdown would include sixty-seven percent renewable electricity, thirty percent renewable heating, and ten percent renewable transportation fuels.

A significant component of renewable energy would come from bioenergy, mostly sourced from forests, with a small percentage of agricultural crops such as willow and grasses.

The CEP outlines eight principles to guide the further development of bioenergy in the state.

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[NEWS] Hydrogen Chloride Violation and Dust Nuisance at Michigan Biomass Facility

– September 7, 2016, ABC 10 News


L’Anse Warden, MI biomass facility (Photo:

A public hearing was held this evening addressing the Warden Power Plant in L’Anse requesting to change the mix of biofuel it currently uses to produce electrical power.

Two non-compliance issues have recently arose at the plant. After an inspection, the plant was found to be in violation of the hydrogen-chloride limit and after more than 60 complaints from L’Anse residents, a nuisance dust violation was also found.

“The citizens called and complained to us and we went out and investigated and we found wood dust on their property, on their vehicles so it was basically creating a nuisance for the neighbors and they were concerned about their health also,” said DEQ Air Quality Division, Chris Hare.

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[NEWS] Wisconsin Biomass Power Facility to Switch Over to Natural Gas This Summer

– by Thomas Content, June 19, Journal Sentinel


Photo: We Energies

The plummeting price of natural gas and future environmental regulations are making utilities do things that were practically unheard of years ago, from shutting down nuclear plants to turning to natural gas for a variety of fuels in power plants.

Following the lead of Dominion Resources Inc., which shut down the Kewaunee Power Station nuclear power plant in Wisconsin three years ago, Chicago utility Exelon Corp. announced plans to shutter two Illinois nuclear plants early — unless the Illinois lawmakers agree to concessions that would allow the plants to be more cost-effective.

The moves are being driven by prices in the wholesale power market, including both the low cost of natural gas and the growing number of wind farms. Low-cost wind provides one-third of the electricity consumed in Iowa.

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[EXCLUSIVE] Is Biomass Heating Safe for Schools?

– by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor

Four school districts in western Massachusetts plan to switch out existing oil or propane heating systems for wood pellets, despite red flags raised by public health advocates.

Currently, biomass heating in New England is more economical than propane, slightly more expensive than fuel oil # 2, and several times more costly than natural gas.

As of May, the average cost of propane per million BTU in New Hampshire is $28.32 ($2.59/gallon), with wood pellets at $15.65 ($258/ton), fuel oil #2 at $13.95 ($1.93/gallon), and natural gas at $8.62 ($.86/therm), according to the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning.

The Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs doesn’t publish BTU calculations, however rates for propane are slightly higher than in New Hampshire ($2.75/gallon), nearly the same for wood pellets ($260/ton), and fuel oil a bit higher ($2.18/gallon), with the biggest difference being natural gas, at one-third the cost ($.25/therm).

To help defray the expense of “renewable thermal heating and cooling upgrades,” the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) offers Schools and Public Housing Integrating Renewables and Efficiency (SAPHIRE) grants.

This year, the Sanderson Academy Elementary School in Ashfield received a $171,598 SAPHIRE grant to replace its oil heating system with wood pellets. Last year, the Hawlemont Elementary School in Charlemont and Heath Elementary School received a total of $355,375 to switch to wood pellets.

Other recipients of SAPHIRE grants for switching from oil to biomass heating include the Mount Everett Regional High School and Undermountain Elementary in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District, Overlook Middle School in the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District, Petersham Central Elementary School in the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, and the Berlin Memorial Elementary School in the Berlin-Boylston Regional School District.

But economics isn’t the only topic relevant to biomass heating at schools. The American Lung Association, the Buckland County Board of Health, and local advocates are worried about schoolchildren’s exposure to air pollution from wood heating systems.

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[NEWS] Citizens Air Concerns With Michigan Biomass Facility

– April 25, 2016, WLUC


Photo: WLUC

A group of concerned citizens is asking the Department of Environmental Quality for some action regarding the L’Anse Warden Electric Company Plant in L’Anse.

Members of the group calls themselves the Friends of the Land of Keweenaw or FOLK. They met in front of the DEQ office in Marquette Monday for a press conference.

They claim the biomass facility is not a biomass facility and that it’s damaging the environment with harmful dust and chemicals that are making their way into Lake Superior.

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[NEWS] Denver Auditor Claims Zoo Dodges Audit on Plan to Incinerate Manure for Energy

[See past reporting by The Biomass Monitor on the Denver Zoo’s (now withdrawn) plan to incinerate elephant manure and trash for energy.] 

– by Kieran Nicholson, April 6, 2016, Denver Post

The Denver Zoo's Waste-to-Energy program.

Photo: Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post

Denver Zoo officials are stonewalling the city auditor’s office, obstructing attempts by the office to perform its duties, the auditor said Monday in a letter to the mayor.

“The Zoo has repeatedly failed in its contractual duty to cooperate with the Audit,” Denver Auditor Timothy O’Brien said in a letter to Mayor Michael Hancock.

O’Brien’s office has been trying to audit the zoo since November, according to O’Brien, and zoo officials have been uncooperative.

The zoo, which sits on 93 acres in City Park, operates under a “cooperative agreement” with the city of Denver.

O’Brien said the audit, in part, is being driven by public concern “related to the proposed waste-to-energy or gasification plant.”

The auditor’s office wants to investigate money that was spent on the plant and current plans for the proposed facility.

Denver Zoo announced in September it would discontinue, a least temporarily, plans for a $3.7 million biomass gasification system that turns animal waste into energy. Zoo officials say if the plant is built, it will not be on zoo grounds.

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