Oglethorpe Power To Build Biomass Facilities

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

OPC has secured options for five potential sites in Appling, Echols, Warren and Washington counties. The first two plants are scheduled to be built and placed into operation in 2014 and 2015. 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.

“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 Georgia 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.”

Capital investment in the biomass plants will range from US $400-500 million per facility, with each providing approximately 40 jobs. Each plant will require an annual investment of more than US $30 million for fuel stock alone and could create a need for 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 (chipped pulpwood), primary manufacturing residue (wood waste from sawmills) and harvest residue (wood remaining in forests after clearing). The plants will be designed to allow for the co-firing of other types of biomass, such as pecan hulls and peanut shells.

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