Fibrowatt, LLC, is considering building as many as three poultry litter and other biomass burning electricity generating plants in North Carolina. The company, which opened its first U.S. plant in Benson, Minn., earlier this year, is exploring a list of potential facility locations in seven counties. As part of this effort, open houses are being held at locations across North Carolina in late November and early December of 2007.

The North Carolina Legislature enacted a bill this summer that sets a minimum requirement for the use of renewable energy by the state's electric utilities. The bill requires the investor-owned utilities to draw on renewable energy for 3 percent of their electricity supply starting in 2012, with the requirement increasing every three years until it reaches 12.5 percent of the electricity supply in 2021. Electric cooperatives and municipal utilities must also draw on renewable energy for 3 percent of their electricity supply starting in 2012, with the requirement increasing every three years until it reaches 10 percent of the electricity supply in 2018.

The bill allows credit for the use of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy sources, as well as hydropower, ocean current energy, and wave energy. This legislation also establishes requirements for the use of certain renewable technologies, an approach known as "set-asides." Specifically, solar energy (including solar thermal energy) must provide the equivalent of 0.02 percent of the electricity sold by utilities in 2010, increasing to 0.2 percent by 2018. Electricity produced from swine waste must provide 0.07 percent of the state's electricity supply in 2012, also increasing to 0.2 percent by 2018. Electricity produced from poultry waste and bedding material must supply 170,000 megawatt-hours of electricity in 2012, 700,000 megawatt-hours in 2013, and 900,000 megawatt-hours in 2014 and after.

Advertisement

Fibrowatt’s Benson, Minn., plant is designed to generate 55 megawatts of electricity or 198,000 megawatt-hours annually. This facility will burn 500,000 tons of poultry litter to generate this power. It will take more than three Benson sized plants to meet North Carolina’s 2014 objective for electricity generated from poultry litter. A typical broiler house will generate around 125 tons of litter per year, so a Benson sized plant would burn all of the litter from around 4,000 broiler houses.

Fibrowatt has open houses scheduled for Montgomery, Moore and Stanley counties on November 28, November 29 and December 4, respectively. Open houses were held in Wilkes and Surry counties on November 13 and November 14.