Supervisors pleased with emissions reduction at proposed prison wood-fired power plant

Contractors building the wood-fired power plant at Northern Nevada Correctional Center told the Carson City Board of Supervisors on Thursday that they have found ways to cut emissions even more than the mandate set by the board in July.

Supervisors were told then the plant, which will free NNCC from electric and natural gas bills, would pump up to 253 pounds of particulates into the air over South Carson City every day. Area residents objected loudly and the board conditioned approval of the project on APS Energy finding a way to cut that in half.

Jay Johnson told the board they've done even better than that, purchasing "bag house filter" technology which will cut those emissions by 80 percent to just 50 pounds a day.

"If you reduce it by 80 percent, we got a good deal," said Mayor Marv Teixeira.

But he chastised Johnson for not bringing in that technology earlier. Johnson admitted the stumbling block was the cost, some $300,000 added to the price of the project. He pointed out the project was already well under state emissions requirements.

He said the company will install the more sophisticated equipment, absorb part of that cost and save another $100,000 by reducing the size of the solar energy project at NNCC from 30 kilowatts to 10 kilowatts.

Supervisor Pete Livermore said the objections by area residents may have caused some discomfort but that, "in the end, we have a better product."

State prison officials say the furnaces, fueled by wood chips from forest clearing projects around Carson City, would produce enough energy to shut down the electricity and natural gas the prison now buys from Sierra Pacific Power Co.

Johnson said Thursday the original savings were conservatively estimated at $386,753 over 15 years. He said with recently approved increases in the cost of both electricity and gas, those savings to the state have already increased about $130,000 more than that.

The Board of Examiners in August approved a $6.5 million contract to build the plant at NNCC. Prison officials say the federal government is also enthusiastic about the project and has awarded two grants totaling $430,000 and agreed to provide the wood waste for free.

The wood fuel will be in the form of chips produced from thinning operations in area forests. Stan Raddon, who is managing the contract to collect and produce the wood fuel, said there is no danger the prison furnaces will run out of fuel.

"Up at Hobart (Reservoir) and Marlette Lake, there's a tremendous amount of wood," he said.

-- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment