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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.

Comments

13 Comments

  1. If this thing pays for itself, why is bachelor instead going around begging for donations to build it???? They make millions every year, even if very little stays in bend- this donation push sounds like another powdr corp mechanism for moving cash from oregon to utah without oversight.

    Lets be real, if they actually wanted to go green the obvious first step is doing something (anything) to reduce the hundreds and thousands of vehicle trip they cause every year, in turn causing many many many hours of idling engine pollution (not to mention fatal crashes most years)

    The bus system isnt working and even though we were named one of americas least sustainable ski towns within the last five years, due to our pollution and sprawl, powdr corp has done essentially nothing to truly incentivize car pooling or transit use for decades

    Bachelor thinks they can just post “protect our winter” posters at the lift entrances and its all good – so far they are getting away with it too!

    1. Agree 100% – the mountain should reduce its parking lot and provide bus rides as part of the daily ski pass fee from a centralized parking facility in Bend. Also missing from this announcement is what is the plan for Mt Bachelor to pay for the same number of trees they are help take down which they now need to replace to help build a stronger environment? They could plant a good number of trees in the area where the parking is eliminated with a dedicated bus line. Or build a narrow gauge train line from OSU-Cascade to the mountain following Century drive. Easy construction job with lots of positives!

    2. Mouse, Who would want to travel in a bus with Covid out there? Can you imagine how many more cases of covid CO would have had if they pushed what you are proposing last season? In addition on most days, traffic to and from the mountain is not a big deal.

  2. They want to spend 5.5 million dollars to build a bio mass plant that replaces 150 gallons of propane use per year in several buildings? Propane costs about $2.50 a gallon or so……That will be a very poor roi, but, maybe it makes them feel better about themselves….

    1. Stop it with common sense and stop using racist math to show how long the payback period for this is in addition to doing nothing to address CO2 emissions. You also should not mention that instead of one LPG truck we will have 100 trucks to bring wood in. This project is a net negative for our climate.

      1. There is a massive degree or irony in saying we’re combatting CO2 emissions by burning wood for fuel.

        Remind me, what is the byproduct of burning wood again? CO2?

  3. 150 gallons must be a typo, a small aesthetic fireplace uses a 120 gallon tank and will be refilled a few times a year,…..maybe 15,000 gallons?

      1. Set up a bus service, and put in more parking. I don’t care how you heat your building. If you find a way to do it efficiently and cheaply in a manner that is good for the environment, good for you. I’m here to ski, not inspect your heating system.

  4. Set up a bus service, and put in more parking. I don’t care how you heat your building. If you find a way to do it efficiently and cheaply in a manner that is good for the environment, good for you. I’m here to ski, not inspect your heating system.

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