State needs answers on why biomass plant went wrong |

State needs answers on why biomass plant went wrong

It sounded good on paper, but now, after the state has invested more than $8 million in a bio-fuels plant that was supposed to save money by powering two Carson City prisons (with energy left to spare), it looks like one gigantic waste of money at a time when the state needs every dime.

The idea behind the plant was that it would burn branches and brush that are not useable for other purposes. That would also reduce fire fuels in the region’s forests.

But no one bothered to pencil out just where all that wood would come from. At least not accurately.

Turns out there just isn’t an ample supply of affordable wood to operate the plant (it has run for no more than three days consecutively since its opening six months ago). Hauling those limbs out of the forest and into Carson City isn’t cheap and it may take federal subsidies to make it worthwhile.

We’d like to know from the state just how the planning could be so deficient, and suggest strongly they put auditors to work finding the answers. The answer is important not only from an accountability standpoint, but so taxpayers can be assured that it won’t happen again. Were promises made by the federal government that weren’t kept? Was the plant based on faulty assumptions?

Auditors could start by reading the 2005 report by the firm that built the plant, which found there was sufficient biomass to fuel the plant. Turns out the only thing that report is good for is fuel for the plant.

• This opinion represents the view of the Nevada Appeal Editorial Board