Biomass burner to generate savings at prison in Carson |

Biomass burner to generate savings at prison in Carson

NNBW staff

The man who chops his own wood warms himself twice.

That proverb proves true next spring when a biomass boiler fires up at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City.

Prison crews routinely go out and work to clean out forest undergrowth. That’s how the new Renewable Energy Center at the prison project came about through discussions with the Division of Forestry, says Fritz Schlottman, administrator of center management.

But the inmates won’t literally chop and chip the wood that will warm their living quarters and do their laundry.

To feed the boiler, Carson City Renewable Service will chip and haul 16,000 tons of wood chips a year.

The prison will pay $300,000 a year for wood chips, says Lori Bagwell, chief of fiscal services at the correctional center. And the plant will cost $8.3 million.

“We’ll get savings every year,” she says. Even during the first 15 years while the lease is paid off, the project will generate a $1.8 million positive cash flow. But then the real savings kick in, and over the 20 years of the life of the project, it will generate $9 million in energy savings.

The system will serve about 1,500 inmates and 260 employees.

Although the biomass boiler will provide sufficient energy to power all aspects of the facility, the prison will remain on the commercial power grid, which still will be used during the one week a year the biomass plant will be shut down for routine maintenance.

APS Energy Services of Phoenix won the bid to build the wood-fired biomass boiler with a 1,000-kilowatt steam turbine generator and a 30-kilowatt photovoltaic solar system.

APS Energy Services spokesperson Damon Gross says the plant is the first of its kind in Nevada.