Going Green: Biomass power plant
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A former coal fired power generation plant is going green by converting to a renewable form of fossil fuel, biomass. An Albany-based energy company, ReEnergy, is going to convert the power plant to run on wood.
Dr. Timothy Volk of SUNY ESF said, “The assessments that have been done in New York State and particularly in the region where this plant is located up around Watertown show that there’s a lot of wood resource available in the forest. And part of that is because the market for the low-value material that was here previously, the pulp and paper industry, has largely disappeared from that part of the state.
In addition, Dr. Timothy Volk said the biomass market will help improve management of Northern New York forestland.
Volk said, “We’re going in now and taking out the highest value materials because there’s a market for that wood but the low-value material is left behind so eventually over time you degrade the quality of the stand, the forest stand.”
Retrofitting the plant, located on the Black River on the Fort Drum Army Base, will also produce water and air quality benefits.
Larry Richardson, CEO, ReEnergy Holdings said, “We will, as part of this program, be reducing the impact on the Black River. We will be reducing the intake of water, the withdrawal of water out of the Black River by 90 percent versus prior levels when the (coal) facility was in operation. We will also be reducing the thermal discharge back into the river by over 90 percent. So, the environment of the Black River will benefit and also, compared to the use of coal to produce energy here we will be significantly reducing key air emissions as well.”
ReEnergy already operates biomass power plants in Lyonsdale and Chateaugay, New York.