The new biomass power plant in Rosthchild, Wisconsin has been commissioned and is producing electricity and steam on the site of the Domtar Corp. paper mill. This power plant has been built by We Energies and has a maximum generating capacity of 50 MW of electricity.
The project took more than 2 years to construct and has cost around $268 million to bring to commercial operation. As well as producing carbon neutral electricity, the plant will provide steam that is needed for Domtar’s papermaking process. This will help the company to increase efficiencies in its production process.
Power Plant Facts In Brief
Location: Rothschild, WI
Feedstock: Forest residue & clean wood waste
The Power Plant Fuel Source
The fuel that will feed the power plant will be sourced from areas inside a 75 mile radius from Rothschild. The fuel will consist of forest residue which is effectively the tree tops and branches that come from timber-logging operations that are already taking place in the area. It will also use wood residue such as sawdust and shavings from paper and sawmills of northern Wisconsin.
It has been determined that there is a plentiful supply of fuel that will be able to feed the plant year round.
The expertise and resources required to transport the fuel source to the plant will be provided by Domtar. The company is already committed to high forest management standards and will require all biomass suppliers to follow Wisconsin’s Woody Biomass Harvesting Guidelines or other applicable biomass harvesting plans.
It is expected that the power plant is going to burn around 500,000 tons of biomass a year.
Costs and Benefits
“The addition of the biomass plant enables us to produce renewable energy on demand,” said Gale Klappa, We Energies chairman and chief executive, in a statement. “That benefit is simply not available with solar or wind generation.”
By completing and opening the power plant this year We Energies has been able to qualify for a federal tax credit that will reduce the amount that customers will pay for the power. The size of the tax credit is expected to be around $80 million and that will be returned to customers in the form of bill credits appearing on monthly bills.
The commissioning of this biomass power plant is part of We Energies’ compliance with the state’s renewable energy mandate that requires the utility generates 8.2% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015. This mandate also requires that the level is maintained if power demand grows.
The cost of building the power plant has been more expensive than a wind farm that is capable of producing the same amount of electricity. But the costs have been justified by the fact that the power production can be generated on demand rather than rely on the variable and unpredictable nature of the wind.
The day to day running of the power plant will be taken over by Domtar employees. The company will be purchasing steam from the plant from We Energies which will allow Domtar to shut down its steam generation facilities which will increase its operational efficiencies and lower production costs.
The combination of the facility’s new air quality technology and the retirement of Domtar’s existing boilers, it is anticipated that the new facility will reduce overall emissions by around 30%. It is also expected that ambient air quality will improve even accounting for an increase in truck traffic. Around 50 to 75 truckloads of biomass fuel will be delivered to the plant each day.
To find out about other biomass power plants around the state of New Hampshire as well as the entire country please visit the Biomass Power Plants In the United States page.