Energy, From New Hampshire to Forida

Between today and yesterday I talked to people at the PUC, PSNH, Laidlaw, CPD and more. I made phone calls all the way to Florida, and I’ve been waiting for calls and missing calls from people at almost every agency. I’ve got reports from Massachusetts and New York universities about biomass sitting on my desktop, and I’ve been immersed in them to better understand the issues and factors involved in power.
I was talking to a biomass plant in Florida when PSNH called. I was talking to PSNH when Laidlaw called. I’ve got letters and responses from everyone around the region with an interest in electricity, and I have facts and figures from independent resources on how every aspect of a biomass affects communities and what the costs are.
I was talking to my editor today about electricity in the North Country and how prominent a feature it will be in the region’s future. I wonder if the Reporter should hire an engineer, not a reporter.

But I stumbled on something cool, and I don’t know how much of it will be in the paper. Here it is:

In Florida is one of the few biomass plants bigger than the proposed Laidlaw plant. It is 140 megawatts, and it goes through 2 million tons of fuel each year.
Big, huh?
But here’s the crazy thing: electricity generation is a side business for Florida Crystals. Their main product is sugar.
“We’re able to offer a product no one else can offer with carbon free sugar,” said Gaston Cantens, vice president of corporate relations for Florida Crystals.
Their plant sits in the center of a 150,000 acre sugar plantation, and half their biomass, or 1 million tons, is waste sugar cane fiber.
The rest they get from local municipalities. They burn wood of any kind, including hurricane debris.
The plant has three boilers, and they are working to build a fourth. It is a cogeneration facility; they produce steam to run the sugar mill and the refinery. The excess they use for electricity, and it powers 60,000 homes.
“We’re the largest biomass fuel power plant in North America, as far as we can tell,” Mr. Cantens said.

I looked at their business model and was just blown away. They are pairing two industries, utilizing an existing resource, and diverting 2 million tons of material that otherwise would make it into a landfill. Great stuff!

I’m going to try to pitch this to some national news outlets, see if they’re interested in telling the story more in depth. I thought it was cool.

6 thoughts on “Energy, From New Hampshire to Forida

  1. Erik,This is just an amazing story of recycling. Note that the plant is not located in the center of a 10,000 resident city, however. (The fact that it burns hurricane debris also is a little scary, however….from a pollution standpoint.You have an amazing gift to write….I'm sure it won't be long before someone makes you an offer you can't refuse and the Berlin Reporter loses the best reporter its ever had.Ryan Landry

  2. Thanks for the compliment Ryan. No offers yet, but I'll let you know.And the plant is six miles away from the city of South Bay.

  3. Erik, You don't need to believe me, and at the same time this needs to enter your archives for statistical data as your blog has become important enough to refer to in the future. Where there is sufficient resource there can be positive results. Where there is sufficient turkey manure, one biomass company thrives, where sugar cane exists that area gives rise to another biomass company that also uses construction debris which may or may not be an emission issue. The issue always becomes to prove resource is sufficient enough to sustain the number of Megawatts in any given area. From there emissions seems to become the concentration of thought.Everyone needs to understand that the demise of the paper mills doesn't provide the fuel for these biomass plants; rather it eliminates much of the fuel for these biomass plants. Biomass fuel is made of the scraps from the mills, the leaves, branches etc. Perhaps the question is, can they ship turkey manure and sugar cane to Berlin to make up for lack of wood supply in this area due to irresponsible large scale timber molestation. From there, what are the emission concerns, and impact of truck and rail travel. Jon

  4. Erik, Six miles away from the city of South Bay is an immense difference from the center of one's heart. I'd like to thank you for your previous post on the elections with a promise that Mr. PSNH will not be alone in a run for ward 2.

  5. The Florida plant shows how biomass is supposed to be utilized. The proposed LLEG Berlin plant is quite the opposite case in my opinion. Sure, waste heat (hot water) will go to Fraser but ideally Fraser would want steam and it is my understanding that the LLEG plant is too far from Fraser Papers to offer steam. Also, based upon current wood studies, there wont' be enough waste wood available locally to supply the plant. Thus, LLEG will either be forced to haul wood from long distances (meaning the plant will be far from carbon neutral) or they'll resort to chipping up whole trees (a real shame in my opinion). LLEG is exactly the opposite of this Florida plant. I sure hope the State looks into these issues when reviewing LLEG's permit application.

  6. Hi EricI came across your blog while catching up on Coos. I am a former North Country resident who has written for the NH Business Review and Boston Globe about North Country issues. Last winter I wrote about the Coos wood study and how there actually may not be enough wood for all the proposed projects! you haven't already met him, Jeff Hayes at North Country Council is a good resource. They do an economic plan for the region that has lots of good demographics and background info. They also have an economic development committee that hashes over all the issues that are facing north of the Notches. Keep up the good work! It's pretty fascinating stuff. Liz Ward Penneyformer SBDC staff, worked in economic development for almost 20 years in North Country!

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