Tag Archives: washington

[NEWS] Columbia, WA Officials Consider Biomass Conversion

– by Brittany Ruess, November 1, 2017, Columbia Daily Tribune

200px-Map_of_Washington_highlighting_Columbia_County.svgA proposed more than $27 million electric power project would put the city of Columbia much closer to its future renewable energy goals and likely prompt a bond issue to cover the costs, city officials said Wednesday.

Christian Johanningmeier, the city’s power production superintendent, presented preliminary details of the project to the Water and Light Advisory Board on Wednesday. The project would convert an existing boiler at the city’s century-old municipal power plant, which stopped burning coal in 2015, into a biomass fueled power plant.

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[NEWS] Washington Governor Signs Legislation Encouraging Biomass Power

– May 17, 2017, The Daily World

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Graphic: NREL

Gov. Jay Inslee today signed legislation encouraging the production of renewable energy at older, fire-generated biomass facilities.

Senate Bill 5128, sponsored by Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview, will allow qualified mills to sell excess power generated by the burning of biomass, such as the fiber remains from timber or pulp, to local public utilities districts. The new law will help older facilities lower power costs by using renewable energy sources.

“Allowing paper mills like Longview’s KapStone, which employs 1,100 people, to sell off excess power will help keep jobs in our rural communities,” said Takko.

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[NEWS] Washington Governor Delays Action on Biomass Bill

– May 8, 2017, The Daily News

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Photo: John Walker / Fresno Bee

At the last minute Monday, the administration of Gov. Jay Inslee delayed a decision on a bill that would help KapStone’s Longview pulp mill profit from production of renewable biomass energy.

Inslee initially was expected to sign the bill Monday morning, but his office withdrew it for further review and rescheduled it for his signature May 16, the governor’s press office said. Spokeswoman Tara Lee said the governor still is expected to sign the measure, but she said nothing is certain until it is inked.

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[NEWS] Washington Gov. Inslee Vetoes Bill to Benefit Older Biomass Facilities

– by Erin Voegele, April 12, 2016, Biomass Magazine

Inslee_14604965553697-300x300-noupWashington Gov. Jay Inslee recently vetoed legislation that would have benefited older biomass facilities by allowing those producing electricity through certain recent capital investments to generate credits for compliance with the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

According to information published by the Washington legislature, the bill, S.B. 6166, would have revised the definition of “eligible renewable resource” under the state’s Energy Independence Act, which established Washington’s RPS program. The new definition would have included incremental electricity produced as a result of a capital investment completed after March 31, 1999, that increases, relative to a baseline level of generation prior to the capital investment, the amount of electricity generated that generates qualified biomass energy and that commenced operation before March 31, 1999.

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Biomass and Lumber Companies Consider Bellingham, WA Shipping Port for Exports

– by Samantha Wohlfeil, March 20, 2016, Bellingham Herald

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Photo: Evan Abell

Bellingham’s industrial waterfront could become the new site for two companies interested in exporting logs and dried biomass fuel.

Since fall, DKoram of Aberdeen and Bio-Fibre Manufacturing of Mission, B.C., have had an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Port of Bellingham.

The agreement has given the two companies time to study how successful it could be to ship round logs and biomass made from wood and/or plant waste to Asia from the Bellingham Shipping Terminal.

The two companies can be sure the port won’t talk to competing forest product companies through at least late April, but the port is also talking to potential customers in different industries who are interested in the spot in the meantime, said Dan Stahl, the port’s maritime director.

“(Bio-Fibre) have asked for an extension and we are in dialogue with them about their business plan for Bellingham,” Stahl said. “When this is ready, staff will bring this forward for review by the port commission. … I’d also just say this is a small startup company that is doing some very innovative things and we need to have some patience with them.”

Depending on how the feasibility studies go, the companies could ask the port to consider leasing them about 20 acres stretching from the shipping terminal north into the industrial property formerly home to the Georgia-Pacific Corp. pulp and tissue mill.

Products to be shipped

Initially, Bio-Fibre had proposed shipping wood pellets, which can be made from dehydrated and compressed chips, bark, pulp logs, and other waste products from mills and logging practices. The pellets are burned for electricity, often in plants that are shifting away from burning coal.

But since that first announcement, the new company has been leaning toward shipping dehydrated biomass chips, not pellets, said Alicia Sebel, sustainability and marketing manager for Bio-Fibre. The materials would come from logging practice residuals and similarly be burned for fuel.

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Washington Bill Incentives Conversion of Last Coal Plant to Biomass or Natural Gas

– by Anna Simet, February 22, 2016, Biomass Magazine

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Photo: Transalta

Washington’s last coal-fired power plant may have a new incentive to convert to a cleaner fuel, rather than closing down in less than a decade.

SB 5575, which passed the Senate on Feb. 12 and was scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Technology and Economic Development on Feb. 23, would provide the 1,340-MW Centralia Coal Plant with sales and use tax exemptions, in the form of a remittance of tax paid, to encourage the coal-fired electric generation plant to convert to biomass energy or natural gas.

According to the bill summary, construction of new structures or renovation of existing structures for the purpose of the conversion would be tax exempt, including labor and services to construct the facility and the machinery, as well as equipment required for the conversion. The tax exemptions would be in the form of a remittance that wouldn’t be paid until the conversion of the facility is operationally complete, but not earlier than July 1, 2020.

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Backers of Failed Biofuels Project Behind Proposed Washington Refinery

– by Tony Schick & Conrad Wilson, February 2, 2016, OPB

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Photo: Columbia Riverkeeper

The state inspector thought his visit to Odessa, Washington, would be routine: a knock on the door, a chat with the operators, a look around the corrugated metal warehouse where they ran a biodiesel plant.

But when Jerry French arrived at the TransMessis Columbia Plateau facility in eastern Washington this past March, the door was locked. It seemed abandoned, but he could see chemical drums inside through the windows.

It just didn’t look right, he thought.

After getting the door unlocked, French discovered the mess.

He saw sulfuric acid leaking from crusted valves. He found chemicals stored beside each other in corroded containers that could catch fire or explode if they mixed. Storage tanks holding thousands of gallons of methanol and other dangerous chemicals were left outside unsecured.

French, a longtime inspector with the Washington Department of Ecology, knew these were red flags. The site was a threat to human health and the environment and needed to be cleaned up. He alerted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency later that day.

He sent an email with 18 different bullet points, each detailing a potentially dangerous situation at the abandoned plant.

“Serious issues with chemical waste management were observed inside the facility,” he wrote.

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Health Component Missing from Biomass Air Quality Study

– by Diana Somerville

We will soon be making history here on the Olympic Peninsula, or becoming guinea pigs. Thanks to public pressure and legislative support, a two-year study of a unique aspect of our air quality may begin next month. The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA), working with University of Washington atmospheric scientists, will look at changes downwind from biomass cogeneration plants adjacent to the existing paper mills in Port Angeles and Port Townsend. These plants will generate electricity by burning smaller trees and forestry waste with construction and demolition debris often added to the mix.

Nippon in Port Angeles and Port Townsend Paper are the major, easily identified sources of pollution in each community’s relatively clean air. Neither mill has yet fired up its biomass incinerator — and that provides a unique opportunities to study significant, and as-yet-unexamined aspects of their impact on the quality of our air.

Nationally, the pulp and paper industry is the third largest energy consumer, after the petroleum and chemical industries, releasing millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, as well as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds. According to Nippon’s calculations, their biomass incinerator will reduce the amounts of many pollutants that travel across Clallam and Jefferson counties.

The ORCAA study focuses on ultrafine nanoparticles, which means those less than 2.5 microns across. Smaller than pollen or germs, ultrafine nanoparticles are virtually weightless. Their behavior depends on what they’re made of – their chemical or biological composition – and whether the particle has a positive or negative electrical charge. Once aloft, who knows how far they can be carried.

The Journal of Nanoparticle Research provides a scientific forum for understanding and discussing nano-scale science and technology. In laboratories, researchers can control for these factors.

What goes up smokestacks and into the air is more difficult to control. Nippon’s preliminary figures show their plant is designed to decrease the total weight of particles released. But nanoparticles are virtually weightless, it’s their numbers that increases health risks.

Small Size, big impact

When it comes to human health, the size of the particles is crucial: Smaller ones are more insidious. “Smaller particles penetrate deeper into lungs, heart, and even brain to cause more health damage,” the Proposal for Ultrafine Particle Study in Jefferson and Clallam Counties noted.

Measuring nanoparticles is significant. Until recently, government agencies and policymakers have mostly ignored human health concerns associated with biomass incineration. The first ever Congressional briefing on the health impacts of biomass incineration was held just a year ago, The Biomass Monitor reports.

The elderly and the very young are particularly vulnerable to  a host of health issues linked to airborne nanoparticles. Infant mortality, premature birth weight and permanent, non-reversible lung damage in children, as well as diabetes, obesity cognitive problems like autism, ADHD and early onset Alzheimer’s correlate with nanoparticle pollution, according to the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

Both Port Angeles and Port Townsend have had air monitoring stations measuring larger particles for years. Sequim resident Bob Sextro, an air quality engineer, says that two newer monitoring stations, one in Sequim and another in Port Angeles, will be outfitted with state-of-the-art instruments. These include optical particle counters and a nephelometer to measure particulates. An aethalometer will help researchers determine which particles come from biomass burning, fireplaces or diesel exhaust.

While the study will measure ultra-fine particles, what is missing is a critical health risk assessment. That means answering questions about front-line health issues: Are there increases in mortality, hospital admissions or asthma attacks after a biomass incinerator fires up? Will those levels change? Will babies’ birth weights decrease? Will infant illness or mortality change? Problems like autism or diabetes take longer to show up. Can those be tracked, too?

Nippon just began a roughly two-month startup process for its plant. Holding off a full-scale start until the new air quality study has begun would provide a unique, significant opportunity for researchers to gather clear baseline information.  Even more important would be for the local mills to take this opportunity to examine the efficacy of their air quality improvements by funding health studies to complement ORCAA’s research.

Diana Somerville writes about creating more sustainable communities and our personal connection with the environment. A Clallam County resident, she’s a member of the National Association of Science Writers, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and North Coast Writers. Reach her at www.DianaSomerville.com.