Gov. Jay Inslee today announced a $200,000 grant to Wind River Biomass Utility to support a planned heat and power generation plant near Stevenson in Skamania County that will generate new jobs in the rural timber community.
The project will produce clean energy from forest biomass -- the wood debris left over from timber harvesting, thinning and treatments that maintain healthy timber lands and prevent forest fires.
Wind River Biomass Utility has been working on the project with local, state and federal partners, including the Port of Skamania County, Skamania County PUD and the US Forest Service. The generation plant will create clean energy jobs and be a big help in developing a market for woody biomass in the southern Gifford-Pinchot National Forest and nearby public and private forestlands.
"Enabling clean, renewable heat and power generation from forest biomass not only creates jobs and economic activity in our timber-dependent communities, it supports our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase treatment of our forested lands for health and fire reduction," Gov. Inslee said.
The grant will be used to purchase equipment for the proposed facility. The grant is provided from the state Department of Commerce's federally-funded Forest Products Financial Assistance Program which is reserved for economic development and job creation in rural, timber-dependent communities.
"Making these funds available is an efficient and cost-effective way to accelerate this important clean energy project and support employment and economic development in and around Stevenson and Skamania Counties," said Brian Bonlender, Department of Commerce Director.
"The Wind River Biomass Utility, LLC thanks the governor and Washington state for their crucial support for a combined heat-and-power project that will benefit the local community via job creation, increase financial incentives for forest health and fuels reduction work, and model an important type of renewable energy development," said Paul Spencer, Managing Partner, Wind River Biomass Utility, LLC.
Prior studies have identified opportunities to build the new facility, which will "co-generate" both heat and power, along with a greenhouse and nursery business. Initially, the heat and power will serve needs at the site, with an expectation that modest amounts of surplus power could be sold to Skamania County PUD in the future.
The facility is expected to be operational early next summer. In addition to short-term construction jobs, it will provide new manufacturing jobs in the plant as well as timber jobs in nearby forestlands. Additional jobs could come later with a potential greenhouse and nursery business co-located at the site.