NNCC: Prison’s biomass plant to be locked up

From: Bio Energy News

24 May 2010

Costing in the region of $8.8 million (€7.1 million) and developed with the aim of slashing the US-based Northern Nevada Correction Center’s utility bills, Nevada’s first biomass project has been deemed unsuccessful.

The biomass plant burns wood for the generation of heat and power. It was originally thought that it would be able to heat all of the water used at the prison, as well as produce enough power to reduce the centre’s monthly electricity bills of $40,000. Any excess electricity would be sold to NV Energy.

However Howard Skolnik, the director at NNCC has explained that the power producing facility ‘doesn’t pencil out’ in the future and if a buyer cannot be found by the summer of this year, the plant will be closed. ‘The original design was just not large enough to make it truly profitable in the long term,’ he said.

However some believe that the plant, of which $6.5 million was provided by the state, should not be shut as it utilises tonnes of forest waste that could otherwise cause catastrophic forest fires on the Sierra Front and Tahoe Basin.

Another problem facing the plant is the question of who will man it. In the original proposal it was stated that the prison inmates would operate it but Jeff Mohlenkamp, the deputy director at CCNN, has come forward and explained that the plant is too high-tech and complicated for this to become a reality. Mohlenkamp remarked: ‘But that doesn’t mean the technology and the concept is a bad thing. It’s a lesson learned. It doesn’t mean plants like this can’t be successful.’

See also Las Vegas Sun

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