Study Could Usher in Biomass Development in NY

EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute, was awarded a contract to study the use of biomass generation to produce electricity for the city and region around Tupper Lake, in upstate New York. Both an abundance of local wood supplies and intensely cold winters make biomass a particularly good option for the region.

“Awarding this contract to thoroughly study the use of wood as a renewable energy source for Tupper Lake is one of the continuing advances we, along with the Power Authority, are making to address the critical energy needs of our community,” Sandra Strader, mayor, Village of Tupper Lake. “Over recent months we have been working closely with the Power Authority on energy audits and on plans for a new line to improve reliability of electric service which, along with this study, show enormous progress towards achieving an even brighter future for Tupper Lake.” The Village of Tupper Lake is a municipal electric system that receives its full supply of electricity from NYPA, which is delivered by National Grid. Municipal officials and interested citizens in the Tri-Lakes Region, which also includes Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, requested the assistance of NYPA and National Grid to help alleviate the Region’s electric reliability problems due to severe winter weather and increasing electric demand. This resulted in the Tri-Lakes Agreement announced in November 2004 by Governor Pataki. The study will evaluate the availability of wood biomass from sustainable sources of wood residue in and around Tupper Lake, the Adirondack Park and surrounding areas. Wood residue sources to be studied include unadulterated wood, such as forestry residue, utility clippings, saw mill and furniture manufacturing residues. The study would also evaluate combustion methods such as direct burning and gasification. Wood gasification holds the promise to be significantly cleaner than wood burning in boilers. It has been shown to result in cleaner combustion, and produces substantially less ash and particulate matter than other wood-burning processes for producing electricity. “The technology of wood cogeneration is advancing rapidly and this local source of generation potentially offers Tupper Lake the benefit of more reliable electric service, especially during peak periods in the winter,” said John Bouck, electric superintendent, Village of Tupper Lake. The EPRI proposal was selected due to the team of industry experts it assembled to conduct the feasibility study. The team consists of EPRI, The Antares Group, Joseph Technologies Corporation (JTC) and State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF). The project team houses the expertise of leaders in local biomass resource assessment and biomass project evaluation district energy project development and execution (JTC) and leverages the technology evaluation capabilities of EPRI. NYPA will coordinate the responsibilities and progress of the feasibility study by working with the EPRI team and the Village of Tupper Lake. The scope of work for this study includes Electric and Thermal Load Analysis, Wood Resource Assessment, Wood Conversion and Prime Mover, Preliminary Plant Design, Economic Evaluation and Final Report. The EPRI project team is considered extremely strong in all of the critical areas of importance.
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