Home Back Issues February 2011 Ochoco fires up job-saving pellet plant

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

Powerlist: Colleges and Universities

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation about higher education with the presidents of the University of Oregon and Clackamas Community College, followed by September's powerlist.


Read more...

The Backstory

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

In our cover story this month, Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, discuss their rapidly growing businesses and Portland’s red hot food scene. The conversation provides an interesting lens through which to explore trends in the grocery store and restaurant sectors.


Read more...

A Recipe for Success

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Two businesswomen, two iconic food brands and one food-obsessed city. We thought this sounded like a recipe for good conversation. So in late August, Oregon Business sat down with Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, to discuss their rapidly expanding businesses and Oregon’s trendsetting food scene.


Read more...

Podcast: Testing for Emotional Intelligence with John Hersey

Contributed Blogs
Friday, September 19, 2014
ivbU3sIXBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

How can you tell if you, a peer, a subordinate or a job candidate has the emotional intelligence needed to do well?


Read more...

Launch

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

September's Launch article features Orchid Health, BuddyUp and Inter-Europe Consulting.


Read more...

A Good Leap Forward

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Agriculture businesses ramp up to meet international demand as workforce and succession challenges loom.


Read more...

The 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon 2014

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
14BY KIM MOORE

Proud, diverse and underpaid.

Pride in their organizations’ mission, fairness in the treatment of women and ethnic minorities, flexible work schedules — these are just a handful of workplace characteristics that employees of this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits appreciate about their organizations.


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