Ameresco, DOE cut ribbon at CHP biomass plant

By Anna Austin | March 12, 2012

After a 30-month development and construction period, a crowd of approximately 150 stakeholders and employees watched Massachusetts-based Ameresco Inc. and the U.S. DOE cut the ribbon at the Savannah River Site Biomass Cogeneration Facility.

The 20 MW facility is located at the DOE Savannah River Operations Office in Aiken, S.C., and will provide steam and 30 percent of the electricity needs of the 300-square-mile site.

Ameresco financed, designed and constructed the project, and it will operate, maintain and fuel the facility under a 20-year fixed price energy service performance (ESPC) contract valued at $795 million. Replacing a coal powerhouse and oil-fired boilers, the facility is expected to generate $944 million in energy, water and other savings during the performance agreement; $34 million in utility costs during its first year of operations alone. It consists of three biomass-fuelled energy plants, two of which provide steam only for their process areas, and one larger plant that generates both steam and power. 

The project sustained and created an estimated 800 jobs, spanning the mechanical, construction, engineering, and supplier sectors, according to Ameresco. The plant will employ 25 full-time workers onsite and support the local logging community, as it will consume up to 385,000 tons of locally sourced forest residue and wood chips.

Along with Under Secretary of Nuclear Energy Thomas D’Agostino, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., attended the event and congratulated Ameresco and the DOE on their joint investment in a clean energy source. “Discovering new innovative energy sources is critically important in today’s current economic recession,” he said. “I am very proud of this private sector investment, as it works to reduce energy costs at Savannah River Site at no additional cost to the taxpayer, and creates jobs that will spur economic development.”

George Sakellaris, Ameresco president and CEO, said the day marked a capstone on what has been a tremendous endeavor for the partnership. “Together with the DOE, the Savannah River Site, the state of South Carolina and our local and regional partners, we’ve built an award-winning, large-scale sustainable power resource,” he said.  “This SRS Biomass Cogeneration Facility, funded by our ESPC, is a shining example of how public-private partnerships can create transformative energy infrastructure for the 21st Century.”