Hi Neighbor! We’re glad you’re here. It means you care about our community. So do we. In fact, that’s why this whole project got started. As you know, our community needs more jobs. We believe those jobs shouldn’t come at the expense of our quality of life. We’re building a company to incentivize making our forests healthy while providing meaningful, family-wage jobs with plenty of opportunity for creative entrepreneurs to develop new income streams. Hopefully your questions are answered below, but if not, please don’t hesitate to reach out at:
hi AT windriverbiomass DOT com
How much is the utility paying for woody biomass?
We’ve been paying pulp prices for pulp grade wood and will pay a fair market rate for slash when the combined heat and power plant is operating.
Will landowners be required to bring their waste woody biomass to us?
No. We are incentivizing the removal by paying a fair market price for it, but there’s no requirement to remove woody biomass.
What are the environmental impacts of this project?
Currently, slash piles are burned in the open. With our system, the majority of the carbon will be captured and stored as biochar. Biochar is a valuable soil amendment that stores carbon and other nutrients in the soil when properly processed. Any ash will be caught with an electronic precipitator. Heat will be used to generate electricity, kiln-dry firewood in the summertime and heat the farm operations during spring, fall and winter. Carbon dioxide will be a useful byproduct for our greenhouses, where we’ll divert it for increasing plant growth. That leaves water vapor as the only uncaptured byproduct of our energy production process.
There are three universities that installed a similar Chiptec system – Green Mountain College in Vermont, Eastern Illinois University, and Middlebury College.
We are building an aquaponic greenhouse operation specifically because we recognize that nitrogen needed for plant growth should be coming from a living cycle and not an extractive practice like the majority of nitrogen fertilizers. Since fertilizer from warm-blooded animals are a food safety concern, we instead will grow fish and cycle their waste to meet our fertilizer needs.
Nature knows no waste and we’re developing a model that mimics the brilliance of nature.
Other biomass generation plants cut forests for biomass or burn toxic materials—will the WRBU do this?
At full capacity, the WRBU will be using about 30% of biomass slash that is currently being piled and burned in Skamania County. We will not accept any trash or treated wood products.
How many jobs will be created?
In year one, we predict 10-16 jobs. At full capacity, that number could triple, not to mention all the businesses that could form to partner with us in bringing us supplies and also adding value to our raw products, like smoked fish or a biochar fertilizer.
How much power will WRBU generate for other businesses to use?
WRBU will have the potential to produce enough electricity to power approximately 300 homes per year, and enough heat to heat approximately 600 homes per year. This is also very important as new regulations now require local utilities to purchase renewable energy from independent producers—enabling the WRBU to meet the Skamania PUD’s electricity purchasing requirements.
Why has the project taken five years to get up and running?
Without a consistent client to purchase the heat, the numbers didn’t pencil out. The WRBU had hoped that the Port could bring in new businesses as heat clients. Last fall, the company created its own with the Gorge Greens division.