Turn­ing tree cri­sis into power for the peo­ple

Australian Forests and Timber - - Bio -

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.

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