EPA rule may effect plans for new plant

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The company planning to build a wood-fueled power plant in Perry County is evaluating the impact of a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation for emissions from alternative fuels.

The EPA rule no longer distinguishes emissions from burning biomass, which includes waste from logging and crop residues, from emissions produced from burning of fossil fuels such as coal.

LG Biomass Missouri plans to construct a $120 million facility called the Perryville Renewable Energy Center, adjacent to the Perryville Industrial Park, that will burn wood chips to produce electricity for about 23,000 homes. It is scheduled to be operational by 2013.

"We are still moving forward," said Jack Farley, a partner with LG Biomass Missouri. "The proposed EPA rule does cause concern. We are still evaluating exactly what the impact might be."

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources already awarded the company its emissions permits in May and construction on the new 32-megawatt power plant could begin later this year.

"We were surprised by the rule-making of the U.S. EPA since it is counter to all previous EPA policy, as well as inconsistent with the longstanding United Nations and European Union treatment of woody biomass," Farley said.

With the EPA's decision to include woody biomass in its Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule, it is no longer recognizing this fuel as a renewable energy source, which it has traditionally been considered.

Wood fuel produces about 10 percent of the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter of a conventional coal-fired boiler when producing the same amount of electricity, according to LG Biomass Missouri.

U.S. Rep. JoAnn Emerson spoke out against this new EPA regulation last week, calling it a "job-killing initiative."

The new Perryville facility would create 100 jobs during the two-year construction phase and another 25 full-time jobs once it is operational, Farley said.

"In Missouri, there is an enormous opportunity to use waste wood from our forests as a resource for efficient energy," Emerson said in a news release.

Emerson is investigating whether legislative action may be used to prevent this EPA regulation for woody biomass emissions from taking effect.

Selling wood products left over from logging is a growing revenue stream for Missouri's timber industry.

LG Biomass Missouri officials said they intend to spend $10 million annually to purchase fuel from area forresters.

Emerson said schools, municipalities and businesses throughout Missouri are already using or are in the process of installing boilers fueled by woody biomass. Several saw mills in the region already use wood fuel to fire their kilns.

Seven Missouri schools received grants to install wood-fueled boilers this year, including the Perry County School District, awarded $970,000 as part of the federal stimulus package.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent Address:

393 Highway V, Perryville, MO

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