A lot of people want to solve the problems with our forests – the overabundance of fuels and fire danger, the dearth of harvesting that goes on, the bug problems, etc. But most times, the discussions end with the list of problems and some indignation. 

Here’s a project that means something that is real.

The California Energy Commission last week awarded a $5 million grant to the Camptonville Community Partnership – the organization that has been planning and working towards a biomass energy generating facility for the last five years.

The project was proposed for the grant a year and a half ago, and was just approved last Wednesday. The money will be used for a couple major pieces of equipment for the plant.

The 3-megawatt plant will be fueled by wood and forest debris collected from forest harvesting ventures and is expected to cost as much as $20 million. The grant from CEC will help pay for engineering and design work and purchase of an advanced air pollutant emission control and low-water consumption condenser, said Regine Miller, project manager for the Camptonville Community Partnership.

That equipment is absolutely necessary. Miller said, to reduce the environmental impact on the surrounding community.

Additionally, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is reviewing an application to include the project in the California BioMAT program. If accepted they’ll work on a 20-year power purchase agreement – the energy created at the Camptonville facility would be sold back to PG&E.

With that agreement made, the plan could become operational by as soon as 2022.

It’s moving along slowly, but moving along. And it has come this far, and will go farther, because it’s an actual idea on how to coexist with forests and forest businesses.

Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.

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