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Discussion of Indian Valley biomass plant continues

Samantha P. Hawthorne
Staff Writer

Over the past couple years Sierra Institute for Community and Environment has flirted with the idea of establishing a biomass plant in Indian Valley; and it appears like it may soon become a reality.

Over a year has passed since the subject was open for public discussion during the Indian Valley Community Services District’s June meeting, Sierra Institute’s executive director Jonathan Kusel broached the subject once more.

Last year Kusel told the board that the Institute might be interested in leasing one of its industrial-zoned properties for the biomass facility. Upon holding a public meeting to discuss the idea, no action was made and no further discussion was held.

During IVCSD’s June 11 meeting Kusel proposed that the CSD partner with Sierra Institute in obtaining a low interest, low risk loan through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. In order to qualify for the loan, an organization such as a community service district must back it, he said.

“The CSD has been supportive of this effort all along but we have never talked about the possibility of this type of loan. Should we decide to go forward, we will present a formal proposal.”

Kusel said over the last year Sierra Institute has made “tremendous progress” in its biomass plant project. In addition to developing a financial plan and securing several grants, the Institute has established a lease-to-own contract on the old Louisiana-Pacific Corporation site in Crescent Mills.

Sierra Institute employees are in the process of evaluating the site to ensure it is clear of hazards and the location is viable for the construction of a three-megawatt biomass facility. “There are very few industrial-zoned parcels in Plumas County, and this one appears to be the most viable site,” said Kusel.

Kusel said if they do go forward, the plant would supply at least half a dozen local jobs, reduce the risk of wild fires and improve forestry operations in addition to providing the potential for a co-located business to move into town, thus providing more jobs. Kusel explained the biomass facility would produce a lot of excess heat, which could be used to make other products. The excess heat could be offered to other businesses willing to move onto the site.

While the organization has come a long way since the last public discourse held, Kusel said there is still a long ways to go until this project becomes a reality.

He promised those in attendance that another meeting would be held at the end of July to allow for further public comment.

The board made no decisions on whether or not they would enter into a loan with Sierra Institute for construction of a biomass plant.

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