SAN FRANCISCO -- Two California wood-fired biomass power plants have been fined more than a combined $830,000 for violating the Clean Air Act. The action has implications for lumber processors using wood-fired boilers and could affect the price of raw wood  materials used in both power and wood panel manufacturing.

Ampersand Chowchilla Biomass LLC (ACB), and Merced Power LLC (MP), located within 12 miles of each other in the San Joaquin Valley, are required to pay $328,000 and $492,000 in civil penalties, respectively.

Both plants were built to burn 
wood waste and other biomass. The plant conversions were funded by Claremont Energy investment fund in January 2007 managed by Ampersand Energy Partners. The Ampersand fund provided refurbishment capital for the two 12.5 MW wood-fired biomass power plants in at El Nido and Chowchilla II.

The fines stem from violations that include excess emissions of air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides - a precursor to ozone - and fine particulates.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said its additional requirements for the two facilities in Chowchilla and El Nido to install devices to improve monitoring and reporting of air pollutants and enhance automation of the control systems for nitrogen oxides emissions, will reduce air emissions by up to 545 tons per year.

“EPA is committed to doing our part to tackle the worst air quality in the nation. Today’s enforcement actions are a victory for human health,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.

Read the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's full release.

Posted by Rich Christianson

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