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North Fork Community Power Project Builds Steam

Submitted by Justine Reynolds

NORTH FORK – A project that is expected to play an important role in dealing with the devastating tree mortality in the Sierra and provide much-needed jobs in the area has taken another big step forward.

On Friday, Dec. 11, North Fork Community Power closed on New Markets Tax Credit financing with Fresno-based Central Valley New Markets Tax Credit Fund LLC, and JP Morgan Chase Bank, which will deliver approximately $900,000 towards completion of their multi-million dollar bioenergy project.

This funding is in addition to the $4.9 million awarded to the project through the California Energy Commission’s EPIC grant program, and will help cover additional equipment and interconnection costs.

“New Markets Tax Credits are expected to become part of the capitalization strategy for projects in the emerging distributed forest biomass power market,” said Angie Lottes, from The Watershed Research and Training Center. “This first deal is a big step for the industry. We’re excited that this might be a model for community finance in forested areas.”

North Fork Community Power, a public-private partnership between North Fork Community Development Council (NFCDC) and Phoenix Energy, is working on the development and construction of a biomass gasification facility in North Fork, Calif. This project will utilize sustainably harvested forest biomass to produce clean energy, reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and produce biochar, a carbon based soil amendment, as a byproduct.

Construction of the bioenergy plant will begin in early 2016 with commercial operations commencing in 2017, depending on when interconnection upgrades are complete. A complete feasibility study for the project was provided through a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant.

“With the devastation created by the tree mortality in the Sierra, small scale biomass facilities like this one will be an important alternative to pile burning for forest waste disposal,” said Dan Rosenberg, President of the NFCDC. “Additionally, we will create badly needed jobs in the local community.”

This project is being supported and developed by a team of NGOs, agencies, and private companies, including NFCDC, Phoenix Energy, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Sierra Resource Conservation District, TSS Consultants, UC Merced, The Watershed Research and Training Center, and Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council.

Justine Reynolds is the Program Coordinator at Sierra Resource Conservation District

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