New energy at port
STOCKTON - Crews have already torn down two giant coal-burning boilers at a power plant that was once San Joaquin County's most polluting industrial facility.
But not all of the old POSDEF plant at the Port of Stockton will be razed.
A $100 million project to convert the plant to a cleaner biomass facility is well under way, and officials said Wednesday that they plan to keep and refurbish some parts of the coal plant, which operated for 20 years until it shut down in April 2009.
Reused will be POSDEF's old turbine generator, where steam from the new biomass builders will be used to make energy.
"If we had to replace that, it'd probably cost another $20 million or $30 million," said John Reis, a manager with Ann Arbor, Mich.-based DTE Energy.
Reis would know. His company has already converted two other coal plants to biomass.
DTE invited community leaders to tour the property Wednesday as work continues. Workers are laying the foundation for the new boiler, with the clack-clack-clack of a pile driver punctuating Wednesday's tour.
At the peak of construction, about 100 workers will be needed. When the plant goes online, it will require about 50 permanent workers. DTE estimates 100 more jobs will be created through companies that supply the plant with the wood fuel needed to generate power.
From a roughly 50-mile radius, the plant will collect urban wood waste, tree trimmings and agricultural trimmings from farmers' fields.
The plant will be capable of providing about 45 megawatts of power generation.
Port of Stockton Director Richard Aschieris said POSDEF was once a top polluter in the San Joaquin Valley. The new biomass plant, on the other hand, has been billed as one of the cleanest solid-fuel power plants in North America.
"Think about where we've come from," Aschieris said. "We're very, very excited."
Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295 firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his blog at recordnet.com/breitlerblog.