Project draws kudos from Bend-Ft. Rock District ranger, Environmental Center’s Mike Riley
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Mt. Bachelor has announced it will start construction next June of a state-of-the-art biomass (wood energy) facility to heat its buildings, saying it will replace propane heat in green fashion while also helping the surrounding forest reduce hazardous wildfire fuels.
The project, in the works for some time, is expected to begin construction next June and be in full operation by January of 2024.
Here’s the full news release issued last Thursday by POWDR Corp., Mt. Bachelor’s parent company:
POWDR Announces Investment In Wood Energy Facility At Mt. Bachelor
Park City, UT & Bend, OR – POWDR, the leading adventure lifestyle company, announced today that it will invest in one of the country’s most advanced wood energy facilities at Mt. Bachelor in Oregon. Construction will begin in June 2023, and it is expected to be fully operational in January 2024. Upon completion, the facility will rank among the most advanced wood energy systems at a ski resort, setting a precedent for future installations across the country.
Currently, Mt. Bachelor uses approximately 225,000 gallons of propane annually to fuel the heating systems for the buildings involved in this project. It is anticipated the new wood energy project will reduce this consumption by two thirds, reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 1000 tons. The project will also significantly reduce the amount of fossil fuels that are trucked in from other areas, replacing that with a locally abundant renewable resource that supports wildfire mitigation and forest restoration efforts.
POWDR CEO, Justin Sibley, commented, “POWDR has a long-standing commitment to use more and different sources of renewable energy for our consumption. As part of our Play Forever initiative, we look for ways to use technology and innovation to protect our environment and be good stewards of the ecosystems where we work and play. Mt. Bachelor’s vision for a wood energy facility, working alongside the USFS to help mitigate wildfires, meets that goal. I am pleased to support the project and look forward to it being the gold-standard of how multiple stakeholders and governments can come together to make what was once just a vision into an industry-leading reality.”
Speaking about the project, Mt. Bachelor General Manager John McLeod said, “We are thrilled that POWDR, along with our Federal, State, and County agencies, is investing in this project. As stewards of the environment, POWDR and Mt. Bachelor are committed to creating a sustainable biomass facility that generates clean energy while reducing air emissions, forest fuels, the threat of wildfires, and greenhouse gases.”
Kevin Larkin, Bend-Ft. Rock District Ranger, for the Deschutes National Forest, added, “Reducing the impact of wildfires to the forest and risk to local communities is a priority for the Forest Service. This new facility will support our restoration and hazardous fuels reduction goals, because it allows us to dispose of woody underbrush in the Deschutes National Forest while also creating a renewable source of energy.”
Mike Riley, executive director of the Environmental Center in Bend, Oregon, said, “This project is a great example of a small, community-scale biomass project that makes sense for mountain communities that want to meet two important goals: protecting their snowpack by reducing their use of fossil fuels and reducing wildfire risk on their surrounding forests. It’s great to see our local ski hill walking their talk and setting an example for the ski resort industry and other mountain communities.”
The facility will be located at the base of Mt. Bachelor ski area and will supply space heating to the Ski Patrol Building, West Village Lodge, Mountain Gateway Building, Todd Lake Building, and the snow melt system, all via insulated underground PEX piping (see accompanying map).
Fuel for the system will be sourced from the byproduct of NEPA-approved forest management and wildfire fuel reduction activities within the surrounding Deschutes National Forest.
Funding. Previously, Mt. Bachelor was awarded a grant from the USFS to conduct a fuels study and initial design work for this project. In 2021, Deschutes County granted the project funding towards implementation; in June 2022, the USFS made an additional award through a competitive process; and in October of 2022, the Oregon Department of Energy added another grant. These grants will help offset some of the costs of the project.
Economic Impact. In addition to reducing fossil fuel use and improving air quality, the wood energy project will provide economic benefits to the surrounding area by creating a new stable market for the byproduct of forest restoration and wildfire mitigation activities, employing state-of-the-art technology that is replicable elsewhere, and contributing to the local economy with jobs, educational activities, and additional tourism. Construction of the facility is expected to create 16-20 jobs, and operation and maintenance will create 4-6 jobs.
Master Plan. This project has been a part of Mt. Bachelor’s long-term plan. Mt. Bachelor previously conducted a study to determine the optimal fuel source for renewable wood energy generation and partnered with the Deschutes National Forest to ensure a wood energy system would support the surrounding area. The driving goal behind the project has always been to do as much as possible to help reduce the risk of wildfires in the area by reducing the buildup of forest fuels. The conclusion of multiple studies and discussions with local partners led to the decision to use locally sourced wood byproduct from the forest as the fuel source. Importantly, no trees will be removed from the forest solely to run the wood energy facility.
About the Modern Wood Boiler. A single 3,412 MBH (1000 kW) modern biomass boiler that is capable of cleanly and efficiently utilizing minimally processed wood chips is a core component of the system design, representing the best available commercial technology in the biomass industry. This technology enables the use of woody material that can be supplied directly from forest restoration and management activities with little to no screening or drying – serving as an example for other systems that support wildfire risk reduction activities. Use of this boiler will reduce particulate emissions for this woody material by 30-50X when compared to the open pile burning otherwise used to dispose of this material. Other key system components include a fuel storage bay with a walking floor and hydraulic ram in-feed, sufficient for approximately two weeks of heating during the coldest weather. Current estimates have the system using approximately 1,000 tons of wood chips per year (assuming 35% moisture content). The system will offset approximately 93% of the propane used by the four buildings and 88% of their carbon emissions.
The biomass energy system will be provided by Kohlbach GmbH, a leading European biomass energy technology manufacturer. The state-of-the-art system is designed to last well beyond 20 years, and all the major components are replaceable, so the life of the system should only be limited by maintenance and servicing of the equipment.
Energy Efficiency at Mt. Bachelor. Mt. Bachelor has invested in several other electricity and energy efficiency projects as part of POWDR’s Play Forever commitment and as a participant in the 2000 National Ski Areas Association’s Sustainable Slopes Initiative, which encourages ski resorts nationwide to increase energy efficiency and sustainability efforts. Mt. Bachelor’s efforts have included the installation of air lock doors to minimize heat loss, improvements in lodge lighting to decrease energy consumption, a solar array installed atop its Nordic Lodge and previous bus garage, efficiency improvements to three high-speed chair lifts, and the installation of three level-two electric charging stations to promote the use of electric vehicles by resort visitors.
POWDR is an adventure lifestyle company that inspires every human being with cool experiences in awesome places. POWDR’s awesome places include Copper Mountain and Eldora Mountain Resort in Colorado; Killington and Pico Mountain in Vermont; Boreal Mountain Resort and Soda Springs in the Lake Tahoe region of California; Mt. Bachelor in Oregon; Lee Canyon in Nevada; Snowbird in Utah; and SilverStar Mountain Resort in British Columbia, Canada. POWDR also empowers and inspires the next generation of action sports enthusiasts through summer camps, mountain experiences, and mountain centers under the Woodward brand that incorporate dynamic programming and innovative environments: Woodward Park City, Woodward PA, Woodward Copper in Colorado, Woodward Tahoe, Woodward West in Stallion Springs, CA. POWDR fuels a balanced life full of adventure through a collection of experiences from the mountains to the valleys. Sun Country Tours in Oregon is POWDR’s river rafting outfitter and Powderbird, based out of Snowbird in Utah, is POWDR’s heli-adventure operator. POWDR is headquartered in Park City, Utah. For more information, please visit: www.POWDR.com.
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