A new biomass facility near Camptonville is one step closer to becoming a driving force in ensuring a healthy forest with the help of a $186,500 grant from Yuba Water Agency.
This funding will help the Camptonville Community Partnership wrap up the remaining tasks required to secure a power purchase agreement with PG&E - a contract between an electricity generator and a power purchaser.
“Biomass is a hot topic at all levels of the state right now and we are really focused on that as a possible way to help spark further forest management work to reduce fire risk, support our watershed and help the state’s energy needs at the same time,” said Yuba Water Agency Vice-Chairman Randy Fletcher. “Getting to this power purchase agreement is a major milestone that we can help them achieve.”
The planned Camptonville facility will be a three megawatt bioenergy plant within the Yuba Watershed, and will use woody biomass material from sustainable forest management projects to generate electricity, further creating a regional market for forest waste material or otherwise hazardous fuels.
“We can do all the forest restoration work that we want, but there must be an outlet for that material that is economically viable,” said Regine Miller, bioenergy project manager for the Camptonville Community Partnership. “We believe that our community-scale bioenergy facility can be an outlet for that material.”
Creating a market for that woody material is expected to spark more sustainable forest management projects, reducing forest fuels and minimizing the threat of catastrophic wildfire.
Forest management activities spawned by the development of the bioenergy facility will provide benefits far beyond the primary goal of reducing wildfire risk. Additional benefits include: forest health and diversity, watershed protection, increased water yield, sustained water quality, safer communities, improved air quality, job creation, local economic development and much more.
Next steps for the bioenergy project include, drilling wells and analyzing water quality, completing California Independent System Operator interconnection and required California Environmental Quality Act studies, creating a regional Yuba forest collaborative and project management and outreach.