New York, New York [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Natural gas originally powered the Quality Lumber Services hardwood drying-kiln and 5 MW generation facility until early in 2003 when the high price of natural gas forced the plant to close.The Laidlaw Energy Group (LLEG) has plans to re-open their Ellicottville, New York plant as a wood fired operation, and a US $1 million grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is going to help the company fund the conversion. In addition to providing electricity to New York homes and businesses, the plant will also generate enough heat and power to continue to operate the on-site hardwood lumber dry kiln operation. The grant funds will be used to partially fund the cost of converting the facility to wood fuel. Conversion of the facility to clean wood fuel will not only allow the facility to re-open, but will also allow LLEG to increase the plant’s electric generation capacity to 7 MW, which is enough electricity for approximately 7,000 homes. Excess heat resulting from the generation process will continue to be utilized by Quality Lumber Services to kiln dry hardwood lumber for numerous area mills, concentration yards and direct end users. By utilizing the heat from the wood fuel to both generate clean energy and to kiln dry hardwood lumber, this plant should achieve substantially greater efficiencies than stand-alone generation facilities, according to LLEG. The facility’s high rate of efficiency, coupled with its renewable fuel source, are believed to be among the key reasons the LLEG project was selected to receive NYSERDA’s maximum grant award. Support from the forestry industry helped LLEG secure the award. Kevin King, who is the executive director of the Empire State Forest Products Association, said “ESFPA is a strong supporter of biomass power plants utilizing low grade wood and wood residue, since markets for such products are critical to the economic health of New York’s forest products industry.” The plant is designed to meet and exceed all environmental regulations regarding air and water quality, noise, and traffic. LLEG believes that its fuel conversion project can serve as a role model for other projects throughout the region, where renewable fuel sources used for electric generation can be coupled with the thermal needs of manufacturing businesses to result in high rates of efficiency and favorable economics.