Southern Oregon University gets grant to study biomass plant
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Officials at Southern Oregon University will explore the option of installing a woody biomass-powered co-generation plant that would provide 100 percent of campus electricity needs.
Southern Oregon University landed a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine whether or not to build a large woody biomass co-generation facility that could generate 100 percent of the campus' electricity needs and 70 percent of its heat.
The grant will pay for a feasibility study to determine whether or not the Ashland campus could use waste from regional forests along with wood pellets and other biomass fuel to generate reliable heat and electricity. The study will also make sure the plant would meet Department of Environmental Quality and other regulatory agency requirements.
"SOU is strongly committed to environmental sustainability. Our plan is to make the campus climate neutral by 2050, so biomass may be one option for us," said Mary Cullinan, SOU president, in a press release.
The university is looking at the imminent expiration of two of the campus' four steam heat boilers, making the switch to biomass a timely decision.
The estimated construction cost of a woody-biomass plant on campus is approximately $12 million.
The co-generation plant is an example of the kind of biomass-based energy development envisioned in the draft biomass strategy for Oregon, a draft of which was released earlier this month.
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