Northwest considers wood-burning power plants

Power plants that would burn mostly wood waste fit into the Northwest's energy portfolio because they would complement another emerging energy source, wind power, an Energy Northwest representative says.

The 50-megawatt, wood-burning power plants would generate electricity at maximum power about 90 percent of the time, said Jack Baker, vice president of Energy Northwest's energy and business services. In comparison, Baker said wind turbines average about 30 percent of their rated capacity.

The plants would burn wood waste -- fallen trees, stripped limbs left over by timber companies, beetle-killed wood, smaller trees cut down by logging companies but not hauled away and even some construction materials. The heat produced would then power a steam turbine, creating electricity.

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