Ameresco announced that its biomass cogeneration facility located at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, South Carolina, operational since January 2012 under the direction of DOE-SR Manager Dr. David Moody, is utilizing storm-damaged timber as a result of the major ice storm which impacted the U.S. southern region during February 11-13, 2014.
"Utilizing the storm debris not only benefits the region and community’s critical clean-up initiatives but affords a positive environmental solution to keep the woody debris out of landfills and power the plant with renewable fuel," said Dr. Moody, DOE-SR Manager responsible for overseeing the Site’s environmental management program. "Working together the region has been able to turn the aftermath of what was a devastating storm for all of us into something positive."
Ameresco’s biomass cogeneration facility began receiving damaged wood the week following the winter storm in South Carolina and Georgia. Since the storm nearly 21,000 tons of storm-related fuel wood has been purchased for the biomass plant, which represents more than 55% of total purchases during the period.
Ameresco expects to continue receiving damaged timber and woody debris from the region through the summer.
"We have been working with local partners to utilize the storm damaged wood because it is a valuable, clean and usable resource and renewable fuel for our biomass cogeneration facility and it’s the right thing to do," said Nicole Bulgarino, Vice President, Federal Solutions, Ameresco. "We are proud to support the community and the regional efforts underway to clear the woody debris in the wake of the ice storm and also keep it out of landfills."
Following the storm, local municipalities have been actively cleaning debris throughout the region in advance of the 2014 Masters Golf Tournament in nearby Augusta, Georgia which begins this week.
Ameresco has been working with local officials and collectors to utilize the damaged wood for renewable energy in lieu of its being sent to landfills. The biomass cogeneration facility at the Savannah River Site provides half the necessary steam to power the DOE facility.
"This has been a significant and extensive community effort to clean up the debris across our region in the wake of the storm," said U.S. Representative Joe Wilson representing South Carolina’s Second Congressional District, which includes the U.S. DOE Savannah River Site. "I also appreciate Ameresco being proactive to reduce potential fires and debris from spreading across the region. I applaud our local officials and business partners like Ameresco for incorporating the Savannah River Site into this important effort."
Since March 2014, the biomass cogeneration facility has received storm wood from Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell Counties in South Carolina, and Burke and Hancock Counties in Georgia. Ameresco estimates that it will convert over 30,000 tons of storm-damaged wood into renewable power at SRS this year.
Following February’s ice storm, the South Carolina Forestry Commission issued a forest disaster declaration and reported that timber damage affected 24 counties across 1.5 million forestland acres in the state. In Georgia, numerous counties experienced widespread ice damage according to the Georgia Forestry Commission.