Over the past few years this blog has covered a few articles related to the Gypsum biomass plant in Colorado.
In fact, back in August 2013 this blog shared an article in which “U.S. Sen. Mark Udall said the Gypsum biomass power plant is a “win-win-win” project when he and state Sen. Gail Schwartz toured the plant’s construction site on Friday afternoon.”
So what’s happened since that August 2013 proclamation of a “win-win-win?”
Well, according to an article written by Josh Schlossberg with the Biomass Monitor:
Eagle Valley Clean Energy, an 11.5-megawatt biomass power facility in Gypsum, Colorado started operating in December 2013, only to have its conveyor belt catch fire in December 2014. Spokespersons said the facility would be back online shortly, yet as of October, it’s still offline. There have been no further media reports investigating why the facility still isn’t operating, and multiple calls and emails to the facility from The Biomass Monitor were not returned.
Another thorn in Eagle Valley’s claw is a lawsuit filed against the company in U.S. District Court in June 2015 by Wellons, Inc., an Oregon-based corporation that designed and built the biomass facility.
Wellons is suing Eagle Valley Clean Energy for $11,799,864 for breach of contract, accusing the company of “fraudulent transfers” and “civil conspiracy,” involving the transferring of $18.5 million of federal subsidies to “insider” parties in an alleged effort to hide the money. The money was issued to the facility from the federal government under Section of 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the Stimulus, involving payments to reimburse companies building renewable energy facilities.
Wellons claims that, on top of the nearly twelve million dollars Eagle Valley must pay them, they are owed past due interest of $1,185,433.56, with debt accruing at $3254.90 per day.
Another bump in the road for Eagle Valley involves the Chapter 11 bankcruptcy of the logging contractor that provides them the trees to fuel the facility, West Range Reclamation. West Range has provided nearly all of the wood to the facility since it opened, mostly from beetle-killed lodgepole pine from the White River National Forest.
Ouch, eh? So essentially every single thing celebrated before the Gypsum Biomass Plant was built turned out – in reality (and in only a short 2 year timeframe) – to be a tremendous disaster. Hopefully the media in Colorado will do a follow up investigation, because as Schlossberg pointed out above, “There have been no further media reports investigating why the facility still isn’t operating, and multiple calls and emails to the facility from The Biomass Monitor were not returned.”
Make sure to check out the rest of Schlossberg’s article to read about more recent growing pains with other wood-burning biomass plants in Florida, Wisconsin, Texas and Hawaii.