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Placer County, CA to restart biomass plant feasibility evaluation

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Placer County in California has authorised staff to restart the feasibility evaluation for a biomass plant in North Lake Tahoe.

A plan for the project was initially approved in 2013; however, Placer County paused moving forward due to uncertainty surrounding the long-term economic feasibilities.

With the rise in defensible space and fuel reduction efforts seen in Placer since 2018, the County has been inundated with green waste materials at the Placer Eastern Regional Landfill materials recovery facility. Currently, green waste is trucked long distances to biomass processing facilities in California and composting facilities in Nevada, with cost and environmental impacts.

“Our number one goal is to find a cost-effective solution for regional green waste market by adding additional regional outlet capacity,” said Jared Deck, Placer Environmental Engineering program manager.

“With a biomass facility at Eastern Regional Landfill, we hope to take local control of the volatile green waste market by adding additional regional outlet capacity. This project will assist the County in potentially offsetting future increases to tipping fees and reduce the cost incurred from trucking out our green waste.”

In addition to reducing future waste cost increases for residents and businesses, a local biomass plant could provide renewable energy to local county facilities. Benefits could include offsetting rising electricity costs with green energy and powering Placer County’s public transport vehicles as they transition to zero-emission electric buses, as required by the state. The facility could provide 24/7 energy input into the local power grid, allowing for adaptability during power outages.

The next steps for Placer County staff will be to determine if the biomass facility is economically feasible. The County plans to apply for grants to cover capital costs of establishing the facility, including $2 million (€1.82 million) in funding from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.