Could biomass be in Boardman’s future?
With approval in 2010 of its plan to stop using coal at the Boardman Plant in 2020, PGE began investigating whether the facility could continue to serve our customers with a different fuel — replacing coal with a renewable resource.
With the help of Oregon State University, Washington State University Extension Services, and the Electric Power Research Institute, PGE is researching the potential for biomass as a replacement fuel. Working with local growers, the utility is growing test plots of Arundo donax — a fast-growing, perennial grass — and testing other potential biomass fuel stocks that could be produced or available near the plant, resulting in minimal transport costs. When put through a torrefaction (charring) process and pulverized, these sources of biomass produce a fuel with properties that would allow it to be combusted at the Boardman Plant with minimal modifications to the existing facility.
Research is in its early stages and moving forward would require new permits, additional emission controls, and consideration as part of a larger Integrated Resource Plan process. But, if research results are promising, a converted Boardman Plant would bring new life — and new job opportunities — to a relatively young facility. It would also create one of the largest biomass power plants in the nation — a reliable baseload resource providing cost-effective renewable power for decades to come.
For more details, see our fact sheet (PDF) on assessing the potential to use biomass to fuel the Boardman Plant.