A biomass plant to be built in Lakeview, Ore., will produce fuel for the U.S. Navy and Marines under contracts announced Friday by the federal government.
Red Rock Biofuels, a subsidiary of IR1 Group of Fort Collins, Colo., will use forest biomass — debris from logging or thinning operations — to produce fuel. It is one of three firms selected for the project, which is intended to produce a combined total of 100 million gallons annually at an average cost of less than $3.50 a gallon and producing 50 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuel. Firms in Nevada and Louisiana also were selected for the project. Details of the contracts were not immediately available.
The plants will produce what is called “drop-in” biofuels, meaning they are chemically similar to existing petroleum-based fuel and can be used in ships and planes without extensive retrofitting.
In February, the Bend Bulletin newspaper reported that Red Rock Biofuels had received a $4.1 million Defense Department grant for a plant engineering and design study. The Lakeview facility reportedly would be capable of producing 1,100 gallons a day and would use 170,000 tons per year of forest biomass.
Red Rock officials did not respond to requests for more information about the project. Dan Shoun, chair of the Lake County Board of Commissioners, said the county is “cautiously excited” about the prospects for jobs and for improving forest health.
The county has been disappointed before, however. Iberdrola Renewables, based in Portland, began construction of a biomass cogeneration plant in 2010 but was unable to finish the project.