To the right is the biomass operation for the Plumas County Courthouse Annex for multiple county departments. It now supplies heating to the annex despite problems during the initial operations. Photo by Victoria Metcalf

County annex’s biomass system running after rough start

By Victoria Metcalf

Special to Plumas News

Despite a less than warm beginning, the biomass operation designed to heat the Plumas County Health and Human Services Building for multiple departments, has heated up toward efficiency.

Under department head reports Tuesday, Sept. 15, Dustin Vert, mechanical technician for Facilities Services, gave members of the Board of Supervisors good news on the biomass operation.


Vert said that the operation is 96 to 97 percent successful. The biomass operation first went into operation in 2018 and through the spring of 2019, according to County Administrator Gabriel Hydrick.

Hydrick explained that Vert has been “engaged with this pretty much since the beginning.”  That means that Vert has had first-hand experience when wet fuels shut down the operation or when the operation failed to provide adequate heat to the large building it was designed to heat and other problems.

“The first year was a wash,” Vert told supervisors. Now the operation has turned the corner. More recent downtime occurred when the operation didn’t get its regular fuel load for two days. The person who usually delivered the chips was busy plowing snow off the roads, he explained.

Considering fuel loads, Vert said he discovered that bins weren’t being completely emptied before they were changed out. Hydrick said that several yards of chips were still left in the bins. That has been corrected.


Vert also said that he’s learned that it’s just too expensive to switch the heating system to propane. So when the operation is down he uses the existing geo thermal. Vert said that part of the process is learning what is efficient to heat the annex and what isn’t cost effective.