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Biomass One makes steam-generated power

The Oct. 10 front page story on renewable energy left us with so many questions. How does Biomass One create renewable energy? Where and how is it stored? Finally, how is it delivered for usage?

— Curious Marilyn, Jacksonville

Biomass One collects and burns wood waste from throughout the area to create steam, which it then uses to generate electricity, said John Bremerman, general manager for the White City facility.

The electricity is transmitted to a PacifiCorp substation, and that company — which is known to customers through its retail branch Pacific Power — distributes the electricity to customers, Bremerman said.

He said Biomass One doesn't store the electricity it creates because that would require massive amounts of battery storage to handle the power the facility generates.

Biomass One consumes 335,000 tons of wood waste annually. To put that number in perspective, that amount of wood would fill enough chip trucks to stretch from Medford to Redding, Calif., according to the company.

If not burned to generate electricity, that wood would lie in piles, find its way into local landfills or be burned. The Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management would lack an economically feasible alternative to burning slash from logging and forest thinning projects, according to Biomass One.

Biomass One has an air-quality system to reduce the smoke particulates it emits from burning wood waste. It emits one particulate for every 500 particulates that would be emitted from open burning of wood waste, according to the company.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.