Progress Energy to buy power from biomass plant

12/18/07 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

Today Progress Energy announced that it has signed another contract with a Georgia company to purchase electricity from a waste-wood biomass plant that will be built in Florida.

Progress Energy won’t own the small plant, but the company will purchase the energy output from the Georgia company.

This is the second agreement for Progress Energy to purchase waste-wood biomass energy from Biomass Gas & Electric.

Progress Energy spokesperson Cherie Jacobs said she did not know where the new plant would be located but that it would be built in either north or central Florida.

Jacobs said this plant would be smaller than a baseload plant powered by coal, gas, or nuclear fuel.

Glenn Farris is president and CEO of Biomass Gas & Electric in Atlanta, the company that will build the waste-wood energy plant. Farris said his company is not yet sure which crops would be used to fuel the plant. He said that woody materials such as switchgrass or Miscanthus grass will be considered, but the cost of the fuel will be less than oil or natural gas.

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said his group supports wood-waste biomass plants because the environmental and economic costs are less than a traditional coal or natural gas power plant.

Rather than being burned to produce energy, the biomass will be gasified, a process that Smith said is cleaner.

Jacobs said 5 percent of the power used by Progress Energy customers comes from renewable sources and energy efficiency programs. Including the announcement of this plant, in the last two years, Progress Energy has signed contracts to purchase 300 megawatts of energy from three biomass plants. The company also has limited programs for solar power and hydrogen fuel cell technology.

But Smith of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said the utility should provide more solar power to its customers.

Learn more:

Progress Energy

Biomass Gas & Energy

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Florida Energy Office, DEP

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