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Mt. Bachelor going green with planned new biomass facility

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Mt. Bachelor plans to take strides toward green energy by partnering with Wisewood Energy to create a biomass facility north of the West Village Lodge. The fuel will come from biomass material burned from wildfire mitigation treatments in the nearby forest. 

The director of business development at Wisewood Energy, Meagan Hartman, says it's an important fire management practice.

"The short story is that the existence of that material leads to higher-severity wildfire," Hartman said Thursday. "Because of this build-up of small-diameter material, the fires that do occur end up hotter and bigger, and we have a lot of communities that live in that environment, so it affects a lot more people."

The president and founder of Wisewood Energy, Andrew Haden, said the biomass technology originated in the European Alps.

"Mostly all the ski resorts in the Alps have a system like this," Haden said. "Our company has built over 20 projects in the region, two in Oregon, and one in California with very much the same exact technology that's going to go into Mt. Bachelor."

Hartman says Mt. Bachelor currently uses over 150,000 gallons of propane per year for space heating at several buildings at the base of the mountain.

"We would replace their propane boilers that they've got in different buildings," Hartman said. "We'd replace it with a new central facility that has one biomass boiler, so it would still be generating heat through a hydronic system."

Hartman estimates the operating cost of the biomass system is two-thirds less than the cost of propane. She also said the amount of wood required to keep the biomass system operating equates to about 50 semi-trucks full of wood a year. 

Mt. Bachelor is working to raise $5.5 million to build the biomass facility.

The Forest Service is seeking public comments on this and other planned improvements at the mountain.

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.

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