New Hampshire biomass plant celebrates 10 years of operations

By Eversource Energy | November 29, 2016

After a decade of generating clean energy for customers throughout the region, the Northern Wood Power biomass unit at Eversource’s Schiller Station in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, continues to be an engine for the state’s forestry industry and a successful generator of renewable energy. Eversource is proud to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Northern Wood Power, which supports hundreds of forestry-related jobs in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. 

Northern Wood Power began operating in December 2006, permanently replacing a 50-MW coalburning boiler with one designed to burn wood chips and other clean wood byproducts, eliminating the need to burn more than 130,000 tons of coal annually. One of the largest biomass renewable energy repowering projects completed in the country, Northern Wood Power is a project of true environmental significance as the reduction in coal-fired energy use is directly offset by an equivalent amount of cleanergreener wood-fired energy. Repowering Schiller’s coal-burning boiler to burn wood has reduced CO2 emission from the unit over the last 10 years by about 3.5 million tons.

“In addition to ensuring a cleaner environment for our customers and all residents of New Hampshire and the region, Northern Wood Power has had a very positive impact on the local economy,” said Bill Smagula, Eversource vice president of generation. “Since opening, Northern Wood Power has accepted more than 5 million tons of locally sourced wood fuel, at a value of more than $157 million dollars. The project’s success is a tribute to all the great effort put forth by our employees and the work of our local foresters.” 

Over the last decade, Northern Wood Power has realized a number of important achievements: 

*Generation of more than 3.1 billion kilowatt  hours of renewable energy, enough to power the City of Portsmouth for more than 7 years, produced and delivered to Eversource customers and the regional energy market 

*Displacing coal by consuming more than 5 million tons of clean wood chips 

*Adding more than $400 million to the regional economy

The majority of wood consumed by Northern Wood Power comes from local forests within 50 miles of Portsmouth, with two-thirds coming from New Hampshire’s own foresters. Northern Wood Power’s fuel sources include deliveries from wood harvesting professionals in New Hampshire, 61 percent; Massachusetts, 29 percent; and Maine, 10 percent.

The project has also been recognized with a number of noteworthy awards, including the U.S. EPA's “Clean Air Excellence Award; the N.H. Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention; the International Green Apple Award (London); the NH Timberland Owners Association’s NH Outstanding Forest Industry Award; Power Magazine’s “2007 Marmaduke Award;” the Environmental Business Council of New England’s “Outstanding New Environmental/Energy Technology” award; and the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable’s “Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award.” 

The Northern Wood Power boiler generates enough electricity to power approximately 50,000 New Hampshire homes, and as one of the cleanest burning boilers in New England, reduces air emissions. By utilizing a locally available renewable fuel source, Northern Wood Power not only minimizes New Hampshire’s dependence on fossil fuels, but also has served as a new and significant wood chip market for New Hampshire’s forest industry.