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Truckee approves biomass study

Truckee is set to move forward with long-term plans for a regional biomass facility.

At its Tuesday meeting, Truckee Town Council unanimously approved of setting aside $120,000 in funding as part of a contract amendment with Wildephor Consulting Services, LLC, to complete a bioenergy feasibility study.

As a result of the community’s proactive fuel reduction efforts, along with the passage of Measure T for wildfire prevention funding, it is expected that more and more green waste will be generated each year, according to a town of Truckee staff report.



In August, the Truckee Tahoe Airport District, Truckee Fire Protection District, and Truckee entered into an agreement with Wildephor Consulting to complete a scoping study. The three partner agencies are estimated to average 15,000 in “bone dry tons of green waste.”

Fees for green waste removal at Eastern Regional Landfill to dispose of green waste have risen from $6 per cubic foot to $12 per cubic foot. The rise in cost for collection, processing and disposal at the landfill for the estimated projection in growth of green waste equates to more than $1 million per year in the coming years, according to the staff report.



In its second phase of scoping, Wildephor found two potential options for Truckee — biomass gasification power and combined heat and biochar system.

Biomass gasification is a process where green waste feedstock is heated in an oxygen-limited environment in order to prevent combustion, creating a hydrocarbon-rich synthesis gas that can be combusted in a gas turbine or chemically converted to a liquid or gas biofuel. The system could potentially provide power to the airport, town hall, fire station, and police department during main grid outages.

A combined heat and biochar system converts biomass feedstocks into heat, creating biochar and generating relatively small amount of electricity. The largest source of revenue for this option would be from biochar sales. Biochar is a lightweight black residue made of carbon and ashes, and is used in a range of purposes including soil amendment, water and air filtration, construction material additive, and more.

Wildephor indicated it would cost roughly $90,000 to complete a study and determine which facility is the best option, and another $30,000 to complete marketability study on biochar and whether it is a cost-effective revenue stream.

The town hopes to share the cost of the project, as it did with the scoping study, with the airport district, Truckee Fire, and potentially Truckee Donner Public Utility District. The item has yet to be brought to any of theses agencies’ boards. Staff also indicated they are pursuing grants for the project.

Wildephor also indicated it would likely be at least a little more than two years before the project potentially could break ground.

BUDGET APPROVED

Town Council also unanimously approved its 2023 fiscal year operating and capital improvement budget.

The total expenditure budget is $71.4 million and includes $33 million for the funding of 58 capital projects.

A total of $38.4 million is dedicated toward operations. The budget goes toward funding the town’s departments, including police roads, community development, code enforcement, building services, housing, transit, communications, and sustainability.

ROAD SAFETY PLAN

Truckee Town Council unanimously adopted a resolution to initiate a local road safety plan to gain a better understanding of transportation-related issues throughout the community.

The goal of the program is to improve safety of all road users by maintaining an accurate collision database, educate motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians on ways to limit the potential for collisions, implement projects to make streets safer, and to integrate equity into the town’s safety decision-making process.

Development of a local road safety plan is also necessary for Truckee to remain eligible to receive future highway safety improvement program grant funds. Such funds have been used in a variety of projects, including $230,917 for the the 2020 guardrail upgrade project, $1.5 million for the Envision Donner Pass Road project, and $900,000 for the Glenshire Drive/Highland Avenue Improvement Project.

Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at jscacco@sierrasun.com


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