Ameresco celebrates opening of new biomass cogeneration facility
Under Secretary of Energy Thomas D’Agostino joined U.S. Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) and other senior officials from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Ameresco, Inc., to mark the operational startup of a new $795 million renewable energy fueled facility at the Savannah River Site (SRS).
The 34 acre SRS Biomass Cogeneration Facility is the culmination of 30 months and more than 600,000 hours of labor. This project is also the single largest renewable Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) in the nation’s history. The project sustained and created an estimated 800 jobs, spanning the mechanical, construction, engineering and supplier sectors. Fully operational, the plant will employ 25 full time jobs on-site and support the local logging community.
Acting assistant secretary for environmental management David Huizenga, DOE Savannah River manager Dave Moody, and George Sakellaris, Ameresco president and chief executive officer, joined Under Secretary D’Agostino and Rep. Wilson for the ceremonial ribbon cutting.
The SRS Biomass Cogeneration Facility replaced a deteriorating and inefficient 1950s era coal powerhouse and oil-fired boilers, and will generate an estimated $944 million in savings in energy, operation and maintenance costs over the duration of the contract.
Clean biomass, consisting of local forest residue and wood chips, and bio-derived fuels will be the primary fuel source for the renewable energy facility, which has the capacity to combust 385,000 tons of forest residue into 20 megawatts of clean power annually.
Energy savings result from replacing the inefficient D Area Powerhouse with the biomass facility, switching from coal to biomass fuel and improving the efficiency of the operations with new equipment that better matches SRS’s load requirements. Surrounding communities also receive added health and environmental benefits tied to air emission reductions, including avoiding 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
DOE signed onto an ESPC with Ameresco in 2009 to finance, design, construct, operate, maintain and fuel the new biomass facility under a 20 year fixed price contract valued at $795 million.