Northern Sierra Biomass Initiative
In January 2001, Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) announced that the Loyalton saw mill and electric power generation facility would cut 150 jobs from its operations. A reduction in supply from the US Forest Service forced the closure of the historic mill and made a huge impact on the small Loyalton community. Today the plant, with a 20-megawatt capacity, continues to produce 10 megawatts, enough to power 10,000 homes. In a collaborative effort between remaining staff and management, the mill went from being a lumber producer to a green energy business. The cogeneration plant is supplied in part from small diameter wood from U.S. Forest Service land as a way to displace potential fuel for catastrophic wildfires.
By diverting materials from the landfills and increasing the resiliency of forests through sustainable management practices, biomass utilization significantly reduces the amount of greenhouse gases that would otherwise be emitted, while simultaneously increasing the long-term ability of the Northern California forests to sequester more carbon. Existing infrastructure will enable Sierra Business Council and its project partners to replicate this story in Lassen, Plumas, Sierra, Butte, and Nevada Counties through the Northern Sierra Biomass Initiative. This project will also support the development of one mergent biomass to liquid fuel technology (BTL) facility, adding an additional five megawatts of renewable power generation.