As part of its ongoing growth in renewable energy and developing technologies, Progress Energy Florida (PEF) has signed a long-term contract to purchase electricity generated by what will be the largest waste-wood biomass plant in the nation. In the past year, PEF has signed contracts to add more than 200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to its system.

Biomass Gas & Electric (BG&E), based in Atlanta, Ga., plans to build a power plant in north Florida that will use waste wood products—such as yard trimmings, tree bark and wood knots from paper mills—to create electricity. It will generate about 75 MW. The plant is expected to avoid the need to burn nearly 5 million tons of coal over the 20-year life of the contract.

The process will use gasification to create electricity. Projected commercial operation is expected to begin in 2011. It will be BG&E’s third biomass power plant.

In addition, last year, PEF signed a contract with the Biomass Investment Group to purchase the energy output (130 MW) from the nation’s largest biomass plant to be built in central Florida. The project, which will use environmentally friendly E-grass as its fuel source, will reduce carbon emissions by more than 20 million tons over the 25-year life of the contract when compared to coal.   EC