August 18, 2005 | General


BioCycle August 2005, Vol. 46, No. 8, p. 55
Lumber mills, wastewater treatment facilities, dairies and landfills are some entities offering proposed projects in response to Energy Trust’s renewable energy outreach.
Susan Jowaiszas

WHEN Energy Trust of Oregon, Inc. issued a request for proposal seeking projects that turn organic waste into electricity, program manager Adam Serchuk wasn’t sure what to expect. What he discovered is that the Biopower RFP generated some of the hottest energy news in the state of Oregon.
“As far as we know, this is the first time anyone in Oregon has gone out looking specifically for biomass-fueled power generation,” Serchuk explained. “We are surprised and delighted to learn just how much biopower is out there.” He noted that the 25 viable proposals received far exceeded expectations, suggesting that biopower will be an important part of the energy mix for Oregon in the years to come.
Through this request, Energy Trust has committed at least $4.7 million to provide financial incentives for new biopower projects able to deliver power in 2006 to Pacific Power or Portland General Electric, the state’s major privately held electric utilities. According to Serchuk, the 25 proposed projects total 91 megawatts of gross nameplate capacity – enough energy to power 50,000 average homes. Entities proposing projects are distributed across 17 Oregon counties and include wastewater treatment facilities, landfills, dairies and lumber mills.
In addition to Energy Trust incentives, project developers may be eligible for an Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit managed through Oregon Department of Energy. Qualified projects may also be eligible for the Energy Loan Program, which provides low-interest, fixed-rate loans for projects that promote energy conservation or renewable energy resources. Since the program’s first loan in 1981, it has financed 606 projects for $315 million. The Energy Loan Program issues state general obligation bonds and borrowers pay for the cost of the program.
“This program is an important contribution to the Oregon Department of Energy’s long-standing effort to support biomass and other renewable resources,” says Diana Enright, assistant director in charge of renewable energy for the Oregon Department of Energy. “Our combined incentives help turn the by-products of industrial, agricultural and manufacturing processes into energy.”
For selected project concepts that seem viable but not yet mature, Energy Trust’s Biopower program may offer to share the cost of necessary feasibility studies and other analysis. “We want to bring all viable projects to the table so that we can understand the real potential of these various sectors. For municipalities or businesses without in-house engineering staff, it can be expensive and intimidating to discover whether there’s a good project right in their own facility,” adds Serchuk. “So, for the moment, we are offering to share this cost as a way to help all potential proposers gain the most benefit from the program.”
On July 15, Energy Trust moved into the second round of the project selection process by inviting 16 proposers to submit more detailed technical and financial information. These second-round submissions are due to Energy Trust by October 14. Five of the 16 projects are sponsored by public municipalities with sewage treatment gas or landfill gas as fuel. The remaining projects use woody mill waste, forest residue and dairy manure.
“We’re looking at projects that feature both proven technology like landfill gas and mill waste, as well as technologies and resources that are new to the region. Here in the Northwest, we’re trying to understand the energy potential of biomass sources such as animal waste and forest residue – that is, small-diameter trees, brush and juniper that impact forest and range health and raise the risk of abnormally severe forest fires,” notes Serchuck. He believes replicable business models for doing these projects are needed to demonstrate that they are financially viable, technically proven and environmentally sound. “That’s going to require real market transformation. We still have much to learn about the biopower market and how it can produce the most clean energy at the lowest cost.”
Serchuk emphasizes that Energy Trust has a long-term strategic commitment to biopower: “The quality, resource mix and geographic diversity of these proposals validates our decision by providing a cost-effective method to create a pipeline of clean, renewable energy projects over the coming years.” Energy Trust of Oregon, Inc., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing how Oregonians use energy by promoting energy efficiency and clean renewable energy for Oregon customers of Pacific Power, Portland General Electric and NW Natural. For more information about the biopower program, visit www.energytrust- .org/biopower.

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