Georgia Power contracts with biomass wood plant

Georgia Power has significantly increased the amount of energy under contract from independent renewable power producers and further diversified its fuel mix by signing a contract with a plant that will use wood biomass in Georgia to make electricity.

Georgia Power and Yellow Pine Energy Company, LLC, a biomass-fired facility to be located near Fort Gaines, Georgia, recently signed a 20 year contract for electricity that will be generated from environmentally-friendly wood waste. The material will come from timber harvesting residuals and collection of non-commercial tree species, tree-thinnings, lumber scraps and wood waste reclaimed from landfills.

The Yellow Pine facility is scheduled to go into operation in 2010 and will produce 110 megawatts of renewable energy. Under the contract, Georgia Power will purchase almost half of the plant’s capacity, or about 50 megawatts. One megawatt is enough energy to supply a Wal-Mart shopping center or 250 Georgia residences.

The Yellow Pine contract is the largest one to date that Georgia Power has signed with a renewable generator. With the addition of this contract, Georgia Power’s energy portfolio includes contracts with five qualified biomass and renewable facilities throughout the state that generate 80 megawatts, or enough renewable energy to power more than 20,000 homes. These contracts include electricity generated from wood waste, landfill methane gas and hydro. Georgia Power also buys energy from a dozen other renewable sources when available.

Renewable electricity from Georgia’s biomass is growing rapidly for a variety of reasons. In 2006, the Georgia Legislature passed House Bill 1018 which exempts biomass from fuel sales and use taxes, thereby making it more cost competitive with traditional fuels.