Oglethorpe Power Corporation last week announced plans to build as many as three 100 megawatt biomass energy plants in Georgia. The news comes on the heels of our post last week that Nacogdoches Power, LLC got the controversial go-ahead to build a single 100 megawatt facility to power the city of Austin, Texas.
Oglethorpe says it has secured options for five potential sites for the three plants in the Georgia counties of Appling, Echols, Warren and Washington, which the company expects to go into operation in 2014 and 2015.
The company expects capital investment to range from $400 to 500 million per facility. "As we have with many of our other generating projects," Oglethorpe spokesperson, Greg Jones, told BNET Energy. "We expect to seek financing for these plants through the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) loan guarantee program." The RUS is the public utilities wing of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Jones says that Oglethorpe expects the plants will be fully "carbon neutral" and should not rely on carbon offsets. "The CO2 that is released during the combustion of woody biomass fuel â€" which the plants will use â€" is merely being returned to the atmosphere with no net increase," says Jones. "When new trees are planted to replace those harvested for fuel, that same CO2 is removed once again from the atmosphere."
When asked how the new biomass plants will compare with gas and coal in terms of emissions, Jones could not give specific numbers, but said they should compare "very favorably."
Oglethorpe Power Corporation is a Tucker, Ga.-based power supply collective, comprising 39 of the state's Electric Membership Corporations. Oglethorpe also operates natural gas, hydroelectric, coal, and nuclear generating plants with a total output of about 4,700 megawatts.