Canadian Biomass Magazine

California county to issue RFP for $25 million biomass project to mitigate wildfire risk

February 23, 2024
By Todd Humber

Wildfire EWF-031 located southeast of Edson, Alta. Image provided by the Government of Alberta.

A California county has approved an RFP for a biomass facility that is expected to cost $25 million U.S. as it aims to reduce the risk of wildfires.

The County of Placer approved the Cabin Creek Biomass Facility in North Lake Tahoe, Calif., back in 2013. But the plan was shelved due to “uncertainty around the long-term economic feasibility of operating the facility,” according to a memo from the Public Works Environmental Engineering Division released on Feb. 20, 2024.

The original proposal consisted of a two-megawatt (MW) electric power generation facility using gasification technology to convert fuel into a synthesis gas, which would then power an internal combustion engine/generator producing renewable electricity and biochar.

“The threat of wildfire has been identified as the highest priority hazard in the Board approved 2021 Placer County Hazard Mitigation Plan and has the greatest potential for catastrophic loss of property and life within Placer County,” it said.


It noted there had been a surplus of biomass material from forest fire cleanup, forest management products, and residential defensible space efforts.

“During this same period outlets for this material have significantly reduced, due to the closure of local facilities, creating bottlenecks at the remaining facilities. This surplus of fuel has driven down its value, placing a burden on Placer residents and surrounding communities to transport their material further or find more expensive alternative methods of disposal, both of which have in turn increased tipping fees for green waste disposal,” it said.

The goal of the new biomass facility is reducing woody biomass material from the region by using the material in an “environmentally beneficial way.”

The memo identified a number of revenue opportunities with the project, including:

  • Generating income through power purchase agreements with Liberty Energy as a qualified provider.
  • Utilizing net metering for on-site energy consumption across all facilities, including future electric vehicle charging stations and Tahoe Area Regional Transportation buses.
  • Selling Biochar, a byproduct, through various channels including a joint pilot study with the Tahoe Fund for stormwater treatment, collaborations with local compost facilities, and partnerships within the Placer County agricultural sector.
  • Earning from the sale of Carbon Credits by directly selling Biochar’s carbon sequestration credits to large California companies (with ongoing talks with Workday), and obtaining Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits for powering the TART fleet with renewable energy.
  • Acquiring 1383 Procurement Credits to counterbalance mulch purchase requirements, enabling the county to utilize and market surplus credits generated from renewable energy produced at a certified biomass facility.

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