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Warrenton Biomass Energy Project

Client: ThermoElectron Energy Systems


Developer demonstrates community backing of proposed biomass power plant to support its bid into utility solicitation.

In June 1993, Portland General Electric invited energy developers to propose projects for utility purchase in a renewables-only request for proposals (RFP) for approximately 400 average megawatts. Thermo Electron Energy Systems (Thermo), a subsidiary of the Fortune 500 company ThermoElectron Corporation, bid a 30 megawatt biomass power plant. With the strength of its balance sheet and long-standing experience in biomass energy, the company hoped to secure a 30 year contract with the Portland-based utility. Since PGE listed community acceptance as an important ranking criteria, Thermo asked us to rally public support for the proposed "Warrenton Biomass Energy Project."

As long-standing consultants to Thermo, we helped to position the project from conception. Siting the project on industrially-zoned,water front property for barge delivery of biomass feedstock were two of the design elements intended to promote public acceptance.

Oregon’s far northwestern corner swung behind Thermo’s proposed Warrenton Biomass Energy Project. The Daily Astorian newspaper entitled an editorial supporting it “the right project at the right time.” The Clatsop County Commission voted to support the project, writing a letter to PGE on the developer’s behalf. Meanwhile press coverage in the Daily Astorian,
Warrenton Columbia Press, and the Oregonian was consistently favorable.

Unfortunately, Thermo was not on PGE’s list of finalists. While the utility’s project manager commended Thermo for its “depth of community support,” among other appealing attributes, PGE’s appetite for renewables proved too scant. The final result of the trumpted solicitation was a single 25 megawatt windfarm outside Helix, Oregon.

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