DNR’s Forest Biomass Initiative showing results; Nippon Paper announces $71 million project in Port Angeles

Forest thinning
Thinings removed from over-stocked forests to reduce fire dangers are part of the supply of forest biomass available for clean energy. Photo: DNR

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Nippon Paper Industries USA’s plan to produce “green energy” from foresty biomass at its paper mill in Port Angeles is welcome news to the local economy… and to DNR. Nippon Paper’s $71 million project, announced Friday, will include a steam boiler and turbine generator capable of producing 20 megawatts of energy at the plant using residue from local timber operations. In addition to the construction jobs, it is expected to create 20 or more permanent jobs, the Peninsula News reports.

Nippon Paper Industries USA was one of four private sector partners selected earlier this year by state Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark for DNR’s Forest Biomass Initiative. Through the initiative DNR seeks to assure local green energy producers of a sustainable supply of woody (forest) biomass for new projects.

The other partners with DNR in the initiative are:

  • Parametrix, which is launching a pilot to convert woody biomass into liquid fuels in Bingen (Klickitat County) using fast pyrolysis technology;
  • Borgford BioEnergy, LLC, which will use wood waste to generate electricity, bio-oil, syngas, and bio-char in Valley and Springdale (Stevens County); and
  • Atlas Products in Omak (Okanogan County) which will use forest biomass to produce wood pellets for heating.

In addition to the renewable energy aspects, DNR’s Biomass Initiative is helping to create sustainable jobs, especially in rural areas that have been hit hard by the recession and decline of timber harvesting.

A bill passed by the 2010 State Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire allows DNR to enter into long-term agreements to supply the initiative’s partners market-rate priced biomass, typically timber harvest slash not needed for restoration on state trust land. It also includes thinnings from over-crowded, fire-prone forests. No state general funds were invested; the partnership and long-term agreements are intended to help build the fledgling forest bio-mass market in Washington State.

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