In March this year, Eggert bought an abandoned sawmill in Hines, which first opened in 1930. In the 1960s, it was one of the largest pine mills in the world, yielding more than 134 million board-feet of lumber. Like many sawmills, it shut down several years ago as the timber sector went into decline.
Eggert, who owns 6,300 nearby acres of alfalfa, has led a conversion of the 220,000-square-foot facility so that it can process alfalfa into pellets to feed his own livestock under the Silver Sage Farms brand. Local alfalfa farmers will also be able to sell their products to the business. When fully operational, it will employ 18 people.
The old lumber mill sits at the entrance of Hines, Ore., shuttered since 2006, a mere ghost of the industry that once fueled economic growth in the region.
A new owner plans to have the facility humming again, but instead of making wood products, it will use state-of-the-art technology imported from Germany to process locally grown alfalfa hay into animal feed, supporting dairy farms across the state in the Willamette Valley.
When it comes time for project implementation, supply is just one of four important factors to consider when determining the right scale for your community. Meagan Hartman, Project Development Manager at Wisewood Energy, shared insights garnered from years of project development and her graduate research at OSU. She discussed appropriately-scaled biomass activities, the different tensions of scale, and different biomass energy technologies. In addition to supply, she calls out social acceptance, economic viability, and existing forest sector supply chains as top factors in determining the appropriate scale of a new project.
The culture of Central Oregon is a place-based one. The region is known for its bright skies beyond the gray Willamette Valley, high snowy peaks perfect for winter recreation, pumpkin colored pine trees that provide a scenic backdrop and playground, and of course, its craft brewing built on a rich watershed. Is it possible this place can also be known for its home-grown biomass energy?
Wisewood Energy specializes in community-scale biomass energy systems, whether for a single institution, district heating for a downtown area, or process heating for a larger industrial user. But, did you know biomass works at even smaller scales too? In fact, biomass boilers are very common in residential households across Europe, particularly pellet systems.
Last October we held the ribbon cutting celebration for Harney Community Energy (HCE), an innovative, first-of-its kind in the region, biomass district heating system in Burns Oregon. The system is providing heat to multiple community institutions on one common hot water loop using a single biomass boiler.