Could biomass be in Boardman’s future?
With approval in 2010 of its plan to stop using coal at the Boardman Plant at the end of 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 the agricultural extension service from Oregon State University, researchers from Washington State University, Portland State University, Reed College and the University of Washington, PGE is studying the potential for biomass as a replacement fuel. The utility is testing potential biomass fuel stocks and working with local growers and other organizations to evaluate their availability. When put through a torrefaction (charring) process and pulverized, these sources of biomass could 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 — a test burn at the plant is currently planned for 2015 — 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.