Boardman Power Plant: From Burning Coal to Biomass12/23/2010
GREEN FOCUS: Cool Things That Are Green
Should PGE's Boardman power plant be closed down? Boardman emits 4 million tons of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides as well as 25 thousand tons of other pollutants. These pollutants contribute to acid rain and haze. The amounts of these pollutants violate clean air laws. Meaning, the Boardman power plant must close if it continues to burn coal without emissions controls. Unless they pump money into upgrades, it's expected to close by 2020.
The estimate for the cost of emissions controls is 500 million dollars. However, Oregon's Environmental Quality Commission voted to amend haze regulations that govern Boardman's pollution controls as a coal-fired plant. Instead of putting in 500 million dollars worth of controls, the Boardman power plant only needs to install 60 to 90 million dollars worth of pollution controls.
But there are good reasons not to close Boardman. Such as, the power plant is a very reliable source of cheap energy, it generates 1,000 local jobs, and it doesn't depend on wind or sunshine to create power. However, PGE has bigger plans for Boardman.
The Boardman power plant is considering burning biomass that is put through a process called torrefaction. Biomass is cleaner burning than coal. The harvesting of biomass also creates jobs. Using biomass has other benefits. The thinning of forests and the removal of brush accelerates tree growth, increases diversity and resistance to disease and pestilence.
The future of Boardman looks bright from power being created by a renewable source.
By: Kate Iwamoto