Kiara Solar to restart dormant California biopower plant

By Matt Soberg | August 16, 2011

Kiara Solar LLC, a California-based power generation company, plans to restart a dormant biomass power plant in Anderson, Calif. The plant was purchased from Siskiyou Forest Products, a wood processing company in Anderson. As part of the purchase agreement, Kiara Solar will provide a portion of the biomass-derived energy to Siskiyou to support its kiln drying process and wood manufacturing.

Kiara Solar expects the Anderson facility to be running by the end of 2011 at a cost of $5.5 million. According to Don Rich, the primary consultant for the Anderson acquisition, Kiara Solar is obtaining the proper governmental air and water permits, and should be legally compliant by the estimated launch date. 

Locally obtained biomass from orchards, including pruning residue and whole trees, will be utilized as feedstock. Other biomass including forest industry and lumber mill residue, and nut shells will also be utilized as needed.  

The plant will produce 7 megawatts (MW) of energy. Kiara Solar intends to upgrade the energy capacity to 8 MW after the restart is completed. Six to 7 MW will be sold to Pacific Gas and Electric Co., a California-based utility, pursuant to a negotiated power purchase agreement, Rich said. The additional energy produced will be provided to Siskiyou and also used for in-house power.

Rich, who was previously with Wheelabrator Ridge Energy Co. and was the operations superintendent for the Anderson Plant from 1994 to 2003, said the facility went dormant due to a combination of low power prices and high fuel costs.

The company estimates the restart will generate 200 to 250 jobs while creating renewable energy. Rich will be the Anderson plant manager once the restart is completed.