Grant will help boost supply of Tahoe biomass for energy production |

Grant will help boost supply of Tahoe biomass for energy production

Adam Jensen
Sun News Service

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Offsetting transportation costs and providing power plants with a consistent supply of biomass are two major obstacles to using the Lake Tahoe Basin’s abundant organic material to produce energy.

But equipment from a recently issued federal grant could help overcome these challenges.

Last week, the U.S. Forest Service announced it would grant $250,000 to the Nevada Division of Forestry and several partner agencies to purchase a truck, four roll-off containers and a trailer, according to a Nevada Division of Forestry news statement.

The equipment will be used to haul thousands of tons of biomass ” woody remainders of forest projects without the traditional value of dimensional lumber ” from fuel-reduction efforts and convert the organic material to electricity at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center’s biomass-utilization facility.

“This grant provides a cost-effective way to remove biomass from small-scale forestry operations that are having difficulty disposing of biomass,” Pete Anderson, Nevada’s state forester and fire warden, said in a statement. “It’s essentially a double benefit ” biomass can be more effectively moved off-site to ultimately help fuel the Northern Nevada Correctional Center’s power plant.”

The power plant has only run intermittently over the approximately six months since its construction.

“Wood continues to be an issue for us,” Lori Bagwell, director of support services for the Nevada Department of Corrections, said in March. “We do not have an adequate and appropriate supply.”

The grant-funded equipment will make it easier to move biomass created by forest-thinning projects to the plant. In addition, fuel-treatment projects from the grant’s partner agencies should get the plant from one-third to one-half of the biomass it needs, she said.

The equipment will be used in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, Humboldt National Forest and other federal, state, tribal and private lands, the news statement indicated.

The California Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission has concluded that biomass use for energy production is a critical way to reduce the threat of wildfire.

“Woody biomass processing is an essential component of restoring healthy forest conditions, reducing the severity and intensity of future wildfires, lowering air and water pollution and has the potential for managing greenhouse gas reduction in the Tahoe Basin,” the commission’s draft report said.