With the Obama administration hammering out its Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions, the biomass industry is positioning itself as a leader in the renewable energy world. With that, a major U.S. utility has struck a deal with other mega-electricity consumers to provide all of their biomass-produced power.
Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon EXC +2.61% Corp., is investing $200 million in a Georgia-based biomass facility that will produce 50 megawatts when it is completed in 2017. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, Southern Company’s Georgia Power will buy all of the unit’s electricity while Procter & Gamble PG +0.2% Co. will purchase all of the steam that will be used to dry its paper products.
The unit will be fired with wood scraps from Georgia’s rich forestry — biomass materials that the state says must be cleaned up to allow those wooded acres to revitalize. By placing that sustainable fuel source in a new boiler, Constellation says that is producing the electricity to power homes minus much of the carbon. At the same time, the steam that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere will be captured and reused to complete a manufacturing process.