By Erik Olson – The Daily News
State Department of Ecology officials said Thursday they have approved Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging’s plan to boost energy production at its “biomass” wood-burning power plant. Opponents plan to appeal, potentially delaying the project for months.
Longview Fibre is seeking to boost its biomass generation capacity by 54 megawatts — enough to supply about 2,400 homes — through a series of efficiency upgrades. Company officials say the project is crucial to boosting the mill’s renewable energy portfolio by burning wood waste for power.
Under Longview Fibre’s proposal, the mill’s total air pollution emissions would likely drop by shuttering aging boilers and modifying a furnace to make it burn cleaner, according to Ecology.
However, the project’s lead opponent, Seattle-based No Biomass Burn, says Ecology and Longview Fibre have underestimated air emissions, which is why the group will appeal to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board within the next 30 days.
“It’s outrageous that (Ecology) issued this permit, but it’s not surprising,” said Duff Badgley, spokesman for No Biomass Burn.
The group plans to hold an informational meeting about the proposal, titled “What the mill is not telling you,” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 22 at the Lower Columbia College conference room A and B, Badgley said.
Sarah Taydas, a Longview Fibre spokeswoman, said Thursday she wasn’t sure when the company could start construction.
Longview Fibre has proposed increasing the efficiency of boiler No. 20 and recovery furnace No. 19 and installing additional steam turbines. Also, the mill would shut down two aging boilers, an old chemical recovery furnace and an old smelt dissolving tank.
In response to public comments, Ecology made small amendments to the permit, such as requiring the mill to meet tighter federal clean air regulations that take effect next year, agency spokeswoman Kim Schmanke said.