North Tahoe residents continue to air concerns about proposed biomass plant | SierraSun.com
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North Tahoe residents continue to air concerns about proposed biomass plant

Matthew Renda
North Lake Tahoe Bonanza
This chart, compliments of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, shows the general process of converting biomass into energy.
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KINGS BEACH, Calif. and#8212; North Lake Tahoe residents continue to raise strong objections to the possibility of hosting a biomass plant in their backyard.

At the Monday, April 18 regular meeting of the Placer County Board of Supervisors, Brett Storey, project manager for the proposed biomass plant, updated the board regarding various elements, including supply and demand for the facility, what type of technology will be used to mitigate emissions and and#8212; most controversially and#8212; the final site location.

Many of the Tahoe residents who spoke during public comment mainly protested one of the plant’s potential locations and#8212; on a parcel of land located off of Speckled Avenue in the northern reaches of Kings Beach.

Mike Baffone, who said his residence is located within 50 feet of the site, appealed to the board members to bear his two daughters, ages 8 and 12, in mind before casting final decision regarding the location.

and#8220;My children play in an area where there will be large trucks carrying materials to and from the plant,and#8221; he said.

Ron Patchy, president of the newly formed Friends of Lake Tahoe, said his organization advocates the placement of the plant near Cabin Creek, located between Truckee and Tahoe City off Highway 89.

Friends of Lake Tahoe was created and#8220;to protect the Lake Tahoe region and halt the construction of a disastrous biomass power plant in the Lake Tahoe Basin,and#8221; according to the nonprofit organization’s website.

Patchy said Cabin Creek is located out of the Lake Tahoe Basin, where frequent air inversions would trap pollutants from the plant.

and#8220;It’s not just Kings Beach. We don’t want a biomass plant in the Lake Tahoe Basin,and#8221; he said. and#8220;All the problems can be solved by putting the plant at Cabin Creek.and#8221;

Cabin Creek is the site for Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal’s Eastern Regional Landfill, where residents can drop off a variety of waste materials.

Green refuse or biomass is currently processed and stored at Cabin Creek; thus, it makes little economic sense to truck the biomass back into the basin to burn it, said Dave McClure, vice president of the North Tahoe Citizen Action Alliance.

and#8220;There is no argument and#8212; Cabin Creek is the only place,and#8221; he said.

Most opponents, including Baffone, said they were not opposed to biomass technology, but merely felt the placement of it in a neighborhood would result in health problems and noise impacts to those who live nearby.

Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery declared herself and#8220;agnosticand#8221; in relation to the location of the proposed biomass facility.

Montgomery and Storey both noted that an Environmental Impact Report is currently being formulated by an outside environmental consultant, the results of which will outline potential impacts to air quality, water quality and noise.

and#8220;We’ll just have to wait and see what the EIR indicates,and#8221; Montgomery said.

Montgomery added she understands why residents near the proposed site in Kings Beach are opposed. She also refuted assertions that officials are pushing for the plant to be located in the North Shore neighborhood.

Duane Whitelaw, chief of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, said installation of a plant in the basin would benefit the fire district in providing a place to dispose of the many materials it collects during summer forest fuels management operations.

However, Whitelaw said it is not critical to have the plant in Kings Beach, and he is just as amenable to constructing the site at Cabin Creek.

Storey confirmed that aside from the U.S. Forest Service expressing interest in using the biomass plant to dispose of waste, NTFPD and California State Parks also indicated a similar need for the facility.

Furthermore, Storey said the county owns many urban parcels that will need to be treated and thus produce biomass materials.

In connection with a grant application to the U.S. Department of Energy, Storey is compiling a report that addresses a fuel procurement plan, a logistics plan, an economic analysis and an environmental report that details how the plant’s filtration technology will meet local, state and federal regulations.

Preliminary plans indicate the plant will supply two megawatts of electricity, capable of serving continuous electricity to 1,000 homes.


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