Albany Green Energy to develop 50 MW biomass plant in Georgia

By Katie Fletcher | February 19, 2015

Proctor & Gamble Co. and Constellation Energy recently announced the development of a 50 MW biomass plant that will provide all of the steam needs for P&G’s largest U.S. facility in Albany, Georgia. P&G will purchase the steam for its Bounty paper towels and Charmin toilet tissue manufacturing facility under a 20-year steam supply agreement with Constellation. The facility will also generate electricity for the local utility provider Georgia Power under a 20-year power purchase agreement for 42 MW.

Constellation will build, own and operate the more than $200 million cogeneration plant under the name Albany Green Energy LLC. Additionally, DCO Energy LLC will hold a minority stake in the project and provide engineering, procurement and construction services. P&G’s Albany facility has used a smaller, onsite biomass boiler to generate about 30 percent of the facility’s overall energy using wood scraps for over three decades.

The new biomass plant will replace P&G’s aging boiler with Valmet’s circulating fluidized bed boiler technology. The combined-heat-and-power (CHP) biomass unit has the capacity of 1,037 MMBtu per hour of fuel input, which will provide 60 to 70 percent of the total energy used at the manufacturing facility. Natural gas will still be needed for some high temperature heating above what the steam can provide. The plant will provide P&G up to 425,000 pounds per hour of steam and generate 385,000 MWh of electricity annually, which Constellation will sell to Georgia Power.

“P&G was interested in upgrading and expanding our exiting biomass plant, but saw that such a large project would require partnership in order to move forward in a way that would be sustainable from both an environmental and business perspective,” said Len Sauers, P&G’s vice president of global sustainability. “P&G teams identified Constellation as a world-class partner and began working with their leadership.”

Gary Fromer, senior vice president of distributed energy at Constellation, said that P&G’s commitment to renewable energy sources and Georgia Power’s strategy to encourage and cultivate renewable energy sources in Georgia were key drivers in bringing the project to fruition.

Another driving force occurred in December when Albany Green Energy became the beneficiary of $250 million in bonds issued through the Albany Dougherty Payroll Development Authority. According to Fromer, these bonds effectively create a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), an economic tool that state and local governmental entities can use to help local businesses employ a certain number of employees to shift portions of operating costs, like property taxes, into hard costs, such as paying competitive local wages and maintaining safety and annual maintenance. “The PILOT for this project will cap project property taxes creating revenue streams for the community on both a public and individual basis,” Fromer said.

Additional benefits to the local community include the creation of up to 500 jobs over the next few years of construction, with an additional 50 to 70 permanent jobs for plant-related operations. “The local community, along with state and federal officials, has been wholly supportive of this project, seeing it as a win for the community and the environment,” Sauers said.

The plant will utilize scrap wood locally sourced within a 100-mile radius of the facility that would otherwise have been left to decay, burn or dispose of in a landfill. The feedstock includes discarded tree tops, limbs or branches, mill waste and crop residuals, such as pecan shells and peanut hulls.

In regards to the feedstock supply, P&G has collaborated with the World Wildlife Fund to develop sustainable fuel procurement standards, as well as Black & Veatch who conducted a third-party Forest Resource Assessment that shows that the region surrounding the plant has an abundant supply of waste wood to support the plant operations.

At the end of 2014, site civil work commenced, including the implementation of the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, road construction, specific to the delivery of biomass fuel, and site security fencing, according to Fromer. He adds, engineering and manufacturing has also started on the deareator.

The project is slated for completion in June 2017. According to Sauers, this plant will nearly double P&G’s use of renewable energy, helping move the company closer to its 2020 goal of obtaining 30 percent of its total electrical and thermal energy globally from renewable sources. “Along with our current portfolio, we expect this project to get us nearly halfway to our goal,” he said.  “Currently, 8 percent of P&G energy comes from renewable sources around the world powered by wind, solar and geothermal.  While we are still working with Constellation on the designs, we believe Albany Green Energy will account for an additional 5 to 7 percent toward our 30 percent goal.”