By: Chuck Roady, F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company
F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Co. (Stoltze) has completed the feasibility analysis of constructing a 12 to 18 megawatt woody biomass fueled combined heat and power (CHP) plant at its sawmill site in Columbia Falls, Montana. The facility would produce clean renewable electric power to be used in the Inland Northwest and steam to be used for industrial applications at the sawmill site. The plant is designed to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a minimum of 350 days per year.
The plant would burn a combination of mill residuals and woods direct biomass. Approximately 30,000 to 90,000 green tons (1,000-3000 truckloads) of woody biomass would be sourced directly from forest management activities both in the form of roundwood and in-woods grindings from slash and sub-merchantable material. Developing a viable local market for woody biomass will provide opportunities and improved economics for local landowners dealing with forest health and fuels reduction objectives. Utilizing this forest biomass in the controlled combustion of a CHP high technology burner will result in an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and haze causing particulate matter over the option of open burning, natural decomposition, and the increasing wildfires we experience each year.
Considered a “Carbon Neutral” form of energy generation, the Stoltze CHP wood-fired co-gen project would help bring diversification and stabilization to forest dependent communities and the forest products industry in northwestern Montana. The facility will require 12-13 personnel to operate and create about 8-9 new jobs, as well as additional contract logging, grinding, and trucking opportunities in the area.
Stoltze managers hope to make a decision as soon as possible on the viability of the project and to hopefully reach an agreement with a local utility to buy the generated power within the next couple months. It is estimated to take between 18 and 26 months to complete construction to put the plant into full operation.