Turning tree crisis into power for the people
IN RESPONSE to California’s ongoing tree mortality crisis and increased wildfire threat, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is working with local communities and power generators to dispose of dead tree debris and turn it into renewable energy.
PG&E is operating sorting and chipping yards in eight counties hard hit by tree mortality to prepare the dead tree debris for use in biomass generation facilities. The two newest sites recently opened in Placer and Nevada counties.
“It’s a unique opportunity to help our communities and our customers, and demonstrate our commitment to clean energy. By removing this fuel, we’re helping people to protect their homes, and enabling fire fighters access to their property and homes in the event of a wildfire,” said Kevin Dasso, PG&E vice president of Electric Asset Management.
PG&E is offering free dead tree clean-up assistance to customers with trees felled by PG&E to protect power lines in 10 counties which have declared tree mortality emergencies. The company is hauling dead tree debris to sorting and chipping yards established in Fresno, Madera, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado, Placer and Nevada counties.
In 2016, PG&E removed about 236,000 dead or dying trees and delivered about 56,000 tons of dead tree debris to end-use facilities. So far in 2017, the company has removed 57,000 trees and delivered 52,000 tons of dead tree debris. PG&E crews and its contractors are actively removing dead and dying trees and managing wood debris.
PG&E’s contractor, Phillips and Jordan, processes the debris into woodchips and delivers the chips for electricity generation to biomass facilities in Fresno, Sonora and Lincoln. In an agreement authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E pays a contract price for the electricity that is below what it would expect to pay for replacement power.
The energy company’s dead tree clean-up program is part of its comprehensive response to tree mortality in the state. The U.S. Forest Service announced late last year that the total number of dead trees in California has reached 102 million on 7.7 million acres.