Biomass Plant Construction Progressing on Schedule

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

There is a flurry of activity where a $255 million biomass facility is being built in Rothschild.

Construction started in June of 2011, and in another year it will be converting clean wood waste into energy.

After years of getting the proper approvals from the state and local governments, We Energies and Domtar are getting closer to taking biomass and converting it into electricity.

In this case biomass refers to clean wood waste, like tree tops, branches, and bark left behind from harvesting logs.

Being built at the Domtar Paper Mill in Rothschild, which already burns clean woody biomass, the new project will use an additional 370,000 tons of biomass annually.

We Energies will use the energy created for their electric customers. Domtar will use the steam created to run their paper mill and nearly eliminate their need to use natural gas to generate steam.

So far things are on schedule.

"We're standing approximately 45 percent complete," said Craig Timm, Domtar's manager of public affairs. "We began construction in June of 2011 and we are about a year away from what we're calling fire up, or actually activation of the plant."

Once we get into the colder months, things will quiet down outside. Workers will be heading indoors to install equipment and finish construction.

Before the project got underway, both companies projected about 400 new jobs. Currently there are about 250 workers at the site daily, in the form of electricians, steel workers, and crane operators.

More workers will be needed once the plant is operational.

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