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Before the COVID outbreak, construction had been scheduled to begin this spring at the site of North Fork's new $15M biomass plant

$15M Biomass Project Shifts into High Gear in North Fork

NORTH FORK — Project proponents say plans are quickly moving forward and construction of North Fork’s long-anticipated, new 2-megawatt biomass plant should get underway “sometime this spring.”

Project coordinator Greg Stangl, CEO of Phoenix Energy, confirmed this week his team is having meetings with “all the major vendors” in the next few weeks. “At the end of next week, I’ll be in a better position” to provide a more specific construction timetable, Stangl said Tuesday.

Stangl also confirmed plans remain on track for the biomass plant to “be operational in April 2021.”

Crates near biomass plant development site last week (Jan. 30)

North Fork’s new biomass plant will run 24-hours a day, providing electricity to North Fork and the surrounding mountain community via a power purchase agreement North Fork Community Power signed with PG&E.

North Fork Community Power is a joint venture involving private-label power company Phoenix Energy, the North Fork Community Development Council (CDC) and an Irish company called EQTEC, which is providing much of the new plant’s infrastructure — and consulting expertise — for a 19.9-percent stake in the plant.

Once operational, the facility is expected to create more than a dozen new local jobs — and serve as an economic engine to help revitalize North Fork’s Old Mill Site development.

Large pipes at the development site

Millions of dollars in state tax credits attached to the biomass plant project were set to expire at the end of 2019 if plant backers could not sell the tax-exempt bonds necessary to fund construction of the $15 million project. At one point in late 2019, seven different law firms were involved in finalizing details related to orchestrating the complex bond sale, according to Stangl.

The deal to sell the tax-exempt bonds actually closed in the final hours of 2019.

The project, which has been on the drawing board for nearly a decade, actually had a groundbreaking ceremony in 2016.

But then the project seemed to stall, in large part because of the uncertainty created by PG&E’s bankruptcy filing in 2019.

Stangl said this week that he thinks it would be a “great idea to have a ground re-breaking.”

“Thankfully,” he added, “the process [to build the new plant] is finally underway.”

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Sierra News Online

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