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Community district holds public meeting to discuss biomass utilization

  In an effort to establish renewable energy sources in Plumas County, consultants hired by the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment have been meeting with districts throughout the area to discuss the benefits of utilizing biomass.

  After meeting with one such consultant, the Indian Valley Community Services District decided to delve further into the idea.

  During their March 13 district meeting, board members agreed to reach out to the community by scheduling a public meeting for March 25. The meeting will take place at the Greenville Town Hall at 6 p.m.

  The board said the meeting is intended to give community members the opportunity to provide input on whether utilizing biomass would be a viable option for Greenville.

  Board chairman Blake Shelters said, “We know the community will have a great deal of input. If installed, the generator will be the first thing people see when they enter Greenville from the south. We want to make sure the community understands what this thing will look like and what, if anything, will it bring to Greenville.”

  Sierra Institute Executive Director Jonathan Kusel will be available to answer questions and provide insight into the benefits of utilizing a power generation plant to produce energy through biomass.

  According to Sierra Institute’s website, biomass is “organic matter in trees, agricultural crops, and other living plant material.”

  Kusel said, “There is a glut of biomass and forests around here.” He explained that biomass contributes to the risk of catastrophic wildfires and agreed with a statement in which Plumas National Forest Deputy Supervisor Laurence Crabtree said the excess biomass left from the Storrie Fire was a culprit in the rapid spread of the Chips Fire.

  “We (Sierra Institute) are an organization that is focused on community and environment,” Kusel said. “we cannot stand idly by as more forests burn. If we do we will see more Chips, Storrie and Moonlight fires.”

  He said that biomass could be used as a clean and inexpensive alternative to fuel oil. “We are working on assessing the supply and identifying ways it can be used efficiently and cleanly,” he said.

  He added that one of the advantages to utilizing biomass is that it is a local renewable product and has the potential for direct return.

  Kusel said the money saved by replacing fuel oil with biomass can go back into the district. For example, schools will have more money to go into services for students and hospitals will have more money to spend on patient care.

  On top of the monetary benefits, Kusel said through “complete and efficient burning process” biomass utilization can cause a net reduction of greenhouse gasses.

  “The last thing we want to do is leave a legacy of dirty air behind. We want to create opportunities to improve conditions in rural communities — that is our goal,” said Kusel.

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