Sunday, August 31, 2008

More on New Austin, Texas Biomass Plant

The New York Times is not the first place one looks for information on biomass energy plants, but a recent issue presented a fair near-term outlook for biomass electrical plants in the US.
When completed in 2012, the East Texas plant will be able to generate 100 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 75,000 homes. That is small by the standards of coal-fired power plants, but plants fueled by wood chips, straw and the like — organic materials collectively known as biomass — have rarely achieved such scale.

Austin Energy, a city-owned utility, has struck a $2.3 billion, 20-year deal to be the sole purchaser of electricity from Nacogdoches Power, the company that will build the plant for an undisclosed sum. On Thursday, Austin’s City Council unanimously approved the deal, which would bring the Austin utility closer to its goal of getting 30 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020....

...More than 100 biomass power plants are connected to the electrical grid in the United States, according to Bill Carlson, former chairman of USA Biomass, an industry group. Most are in California or the Northeast, but some of the new ones are under development in the South, a region with a large wood pulp industry.

The last big wave of investment in the biomass industry came during the 1980s and early 1990s. Interest is rising again as states push to include more renewable power in their mix of electricity generation.

Last week, Georgia Power asked state regulators to approve the conversion of a coal plant into a 96-megawatt biomass plant. An additional 50-megawatt plant in East Texas is expected to be under construction by September....

....In California, which has the most biomass plants in the country, momentum is reviving after years of decline. The number of biomass plants has dropped to fewer than 30, from 48 in the early 1990s, because of the closing of many sawmills and the energy crisis early this decade, said Phil Reese of the California Biomass Energy Alliance. Six to eight of the mothballed plants are gearing up to restart, Mr. Reese said, helping California meet its renewable energy goals.

At least three biomass plants have been proposed in Connecticut, and another three in Massachusetts — though last week one of these, a $200 million, 50-megawatt biomass plant proposed for the western part of the state, experienced a regulatory setback because of concerns about truck traffic. _NYT
Al Fin is not particularly pleased to see biomass getting all this attention in the national press. The economics of biomass will continue to suit the local and regional level needs long before it rises to the level of the national and international stage. In the US, it is the state governors and legislators who should be out in front pushing bioenergy wherever the resources exist.

The US Congress under Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and the rest of the inept crew, will not work in a timely manner to assure the US of the energy resources it needs for the next half century. Since that is about how long it will take renewable energies to come into their own on a national and international scale, it should be obvious to any voter in the US that they would have to be a total moron to vote to keep a Democrat Party Senator of Congressman in office--at least until we can get past multiple current quasi-crises in energy, global jihad, Russian neo-imperialism, and Chinese hegemonism.

Of course, it never speaks highly for one's intelligence when he expects strict rationality from the American voter. Or any population of voters, for that matter.



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