Loyalton biomass plant re-opens after being shut down for nearly four months
LOYALTON, Calif. and#8212; A renegotiated energy contract and declining transportation costs led to the biomass plant in Loyalton reopening this week and#8212; and the re-establishment of nearly 20 jobs.
The plant and#8212; operated by Sierra Pacific Industries and#8212; shut down Sept. 12, 2009, due to tough economic conditions, leaving 19 employees without work. However, after recent conversations with the local energy giant NV Energy, it re-opened Wednesday, and SPI Spokesman Mark Pawlicki said the company hired most of the staff back.
and#8220;The situation was the cost of fuel relative to the price of energy were not in balance,and#8221; Pawlicki said.
Sierra Pacific Industries also had to transport biomass material and#8212; about half from landfills in Sacramento and Reno, and half from forest fuels reduction in the northern Sierra and#8212; ever since the sawmill in Loyalton which provided local fuel closed a few years ago, Pawlicki said.
That meant driving the waste material as far as 100 miles, Pawlicki said, too costly when gas prices were higher.
and#8220;Weand#8217;re relying on sources like the (U.S.) Forest Service for fuels reduction material, which is very good and#8212; it combines fuel with the reduction of wildfire threats,and#8221; Pawlicki said.
Truckee Ranger District Vegetation Management Officer Scott Conway said this is good news for the forest service.
and#8220;When that shut down it really hurt a lot of projects and#8212; there was no place to economically ship the material,and#8221; Conway said.
Congressman Tom McClintock also offered a statement of support.
and#8220;I am pleased to see that a solution has been reached to reopen the cogeneration facility in Loyalton. The plant is an important source of energy and jobs,and#8221; McClintock said in the statement. and#8220;Our region is endowed by the most plentiful natural resources in the country and I am delighted that these assets will now foster jobs and restore economic opportunities.and#8221;
Bringing the plant back online means the forest service can move forward with forestry projects throughout the region, he said.
The 20-megawatt plant goes through about 160,000 tons of biomass and#8212; composed of woodchips and byproducts from forestry and lumber work, Pawlicki said. It generates enough electricity to power about 7,000 homes within NV Energyand#8217;s service area.