April 18: Groundbreaking for Landmark Bioenergy Plant in Burney

West Biofuels, LLC, announced a groundbreaking ceremony for a three-megawatt bioenergy plant at the junction of Shasta, Lassen and Modoc counties April 18 at 24339 California Highway 89, Burney. The new facility will help California reduce wildfire risks and impacts, meet climate change goals, and create local green jobs and economic growth.

The facility is owned by Hat Creek Bioenergy and developed in collaboration with West Biofuels engineering, procurement and construction management team and local partners including Fall River Resource Conservation District.

Partial funding for this project was provided by the California Energy Commission through the Electric Program Investment Charge, and lending partners River City Bank and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as part of the California Climate Investments Program.

West Biofuels is an expert in the conversion of organic byproducts into forms of renewable energy to eliminate waste, lower California’s carbon footprint, and strengthen local economies.

The new Hat Creek Bioenergy facility will convert forest waste and sustainably sourced wood to renewable electricity, heat and biochar to help California reduce wildfire risks and impacts, meet climate change goals, and create local green jobs and economic growth.

Confirmed speakers at the event include, Peter T. Paul, Majority Owner, Hat Creek Bioenergy and CEO, West Biofuels; Perry Thompson, President, Hat Creek Construction and Materials, Inc.; Kristen Decker, CFO, Hat Creek Bioenergy; Matthew Summers, COO, West Biofuels; Bruce Ross, District Director, State Senator Brian Dahle; and Todd Sloat, Project Manager, Fall River Resource Conservation District.

The bioenergy facility is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2024 and commissioned with PG&E in the second quarter of 2024.

Project overview
The Hat Creek Bioenergy facility represents innovative technology. In 2017, the state of California recognized the bioenergy facility with a $5 million grant through the California Energy Commission, in partnership with the Fall River Resource Conservation District in McArthur.

The bioenergy facility is also part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities. The cap-and-trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investment projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling, and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are located within and benefiting residents of disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households across California. For more information, visit caclimateinvestments.ca.gov.

The Hat Creek Bioenergy facility will provide good-paying jobs and careers in areas with limited economic opportunities due to the decline of logging and lumber mills.

Located on a portion of the 342-acre, industrial-zoned site of a former lumber mill that closed in 1989 and adjacent to Hat Creek Construction & Materials, Inc., which shares the same parcel, Hat Creek Bioenergy is leasing eight acres for the bioenergy facility.

Employment includes operations, management, maintenance, and technical and administrative support.

The biomass feedstock is procured from nearby forest restoration projects, including slash and dead and small-diameter trees, resulting from five years of drought and the related resurgence of bark beetle infestation in fir and pine trees.

California has over 32 million acres of forest land and over three million acres of agricultural orchards producing nearly 20 million BDT of woody biomass annually (14.2 million BDT from forest sources and 5.4 million BDT from agricultural sources). This feedstock could generate more than 2,000 MW of renewable electricity.

The bioenergy facility will convert raw forest biomass to syngas, which is a gaseous alternative fuel that can ultimately be used for renewable heat and electricity.

The bioenergy facility is expected to convert 28,000 BDT of forest fuels into 546,000 MMBtu of producer gas, further converted to 23,600 MWh of electricity at a 90 percent factor capacity.

The bioenergy facility can also potentially generate a forecasted 5,600 tons of biochar with 3MW created and, thus, additional employment opportunities. With its high levels of carbon, biochar enhances the soil’s biological productivity and its water-holding and fertilizer-holding capacity to improve crop nutrition and plant growth.

The clean, renewable energy generated will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest investor-owned utility.

The contract is through the BioMAT program created by the California Public Utility Commission to stimulate renewable electricity production to help meet the state’s ambitious green energy and climate action goals.