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Final decision on biomass plant a year away
Klamath Falls Bioenergy enters state approval process for proposed facility off Highway 66 west of town.
by LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 4/7/12

It will be at least a year before state officials make a final decision on a proposed biomass facility in Klamath Falls.

The Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council met Friday in Klamath Falls to discuss the next steps in what likely will be a year-long procedure for developer Northwest Energy Systems Co.

Because the official comment period closed Feb. 10, no testimony was allowed on the proposed $130 million Klamath Falls Bioenergy facility at the meeting.

About 40 people attended the hearing, including opponents and supporters of the plant that NESCO wants to build on a 112-acre site five miles west of Klamath Falls and 1-1/2 miles south of the Collins Timberland Mill site. The plant would burn wood from 600,000 acres of private forestland and produce about 42 megawatts of electricity a day, enough to power more than 35,000 homes. Once built, developers say it would employ about 23 people and create 60 woods jobs

Opponents say the plant would be an eyesore and degrade the area’s air quality. The site is just outside the boundaries of the air quality nonattainment area, which is an area that has not met federal air quality standards.

Paul Fouch, president of Save Our Rural Oregon, asked state officials Friday how to file an appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court if the biomass plant eventually gets the go-ahead.

Janet Prewitt, the siting council’s attorney, indicated it could be a year before the complex approval process, which involves a series of reviews and hearings, is complete. As the process continues, Prewitt said it will become formal and similar to a jury trial.

Regardless of the decision the Oregon Department of Energy makes, Prewitt said the losing party can appeal the decision to the Oregon Supreme Court. The court would have up to six months to make a decision.

Sue Oliver, the agency’s siting officer, said it would be mid-May before staff completes reviewing 1,500 pages of written comments from 67 people.

Friday’s session was intended to review the draft proposed order issued Jan. 9. Oliver and Duane Kilsdonk outlined various mandatory and recommended conditions for construction timelines, traffic conditions during plant construction, minimizing the facility’s visual impacts, protections for archeological resources and public services. Oliver noted the proposed site has been used as pastureland for many years, but has been zoned heavy industrial since the 1970s.



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