Ochoco fires up job-saving pellet plant

| Print |  Email
Articles - February 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011

0211_OchocoOchoco Lumber’s new biomass plant, built adjacent to its existing sawmill on its Malheur Lumber site in John Day, began churning out pellets this month.

The plant will bring jobs to a region with unemployment of more than 14%. Rick Minster, a business development officer for Business Oregon, the state’s economic development arm, stressed the impact of jobs created by the new plant. “The huge benefit is the retention aspect of having the facility there. It enhances the viability of the 80-plus jobs at the sawmill.” Beyond retaining those existing jobs, the biomass plant will directly create between 11-15 full-time jobs.

The factory was built despite an oversupply of pellet production that last year shut down three other wood pellet plants in Oregon. The project was financed with $50 million in new market tax credits allocated by Ecotrust, Midwest Renewable Capital and CEI Capital Management. It also received a $4.9 million federal stimulus grant.

The plant will turn material unsuitable for timber use — small-diameter trees and debris — into pellets and bricks for fuel.
Ococho has stewardship contracts through the U.S Forest Service to maintain forest health throughout the state, although the new plant will source only materials from Grant, Crook and Harney counties because of transportation costs.  The facility will now allow the company to turn material collected through these contracts into fuel to be sold around the state.

“We think our product should stay as local as it possibly can, ” said Ochoco president Bruce Daucsavage, who plans on supplying pellets and bricks to the biomass heating systems at Harney County Hospital, Burns High School and the John Day Airport.

Daucsavage sees the new plant as a valuable addition to the sawmill. “It fits in beautifully to what we do because now we have a facility that can take this type of material,” he says. “It’s going to help us increase forest health, reduce fire risk and get some timber off these contracts.”

Gov. John Kitzhaber has formed a biomass transition team to promote the industry, led by John Shelk, the managing director of Ochoco. Sen. Ron Wyden is also a fervent supporter of the biomass industry and has been critical of the EPA’s attempts to regulate the industry under the Clean Air Act. The EPA in January deferred action for three years while it studies the long-term environmental impact of the industry.

Whether or not the industry will take off depends on financing, regulation and consumer demand. For the new plant in John Day, the numbers appear to have made sense. At least for now.

ILIE MITARU
 

More Articles

Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


Read more...

Top stories in 2014

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
10-listthumb

2014 was a year of wild contradictions, fast-paced growth and unexpected revelations.


Read more...

Leading with the right brain

News
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
120914-manderson-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

On the eve of the Portland Ad Federation's Rosey Awards, Matt Anderson, CEO of Struck, talks about the transition from creative director to CEO, the Portland talent pool and whether data is the new black in the creative services sector.


Read more...

Corner Office: Marv LaPorte

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

The president of LaPorte & Associates lets us in on his day-to-day life.


Read more...

Streetfight

News
Sunday, December 07, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

On Friday, Uber switched on an app — and with one push of the button torpedoed Portland’s famed public process.


Read more...

Corner Office: Pam Edstrom

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits of information from an agency partner and co-founder of Waggener Edstrom in Lake Oswego.


Read more...

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS