SOU to Host Forum on Biomass Cogeneration Conversion

November 4, 2014
(Ashland, Ore.) — As part of an ongoing effort to become 100 percent carbon neutral by 2050, Southern Oregon University is considering replacing its existing natural gas-fired steam boilers with a biomass cogeneration facility that would provide the University’s main campus with heat while producing electricity that could be sold back into the power grid. A biomass cogeneration system would be more economical than maintaining the current system, would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and would make a significant step toward SOU’s carbon emission reduction targets.
Two of the University’s four existing boilers are reaching the end of their useful life. SOU commissioned a series of studies to explore options to meet the increasing demand for campus heating. The reports found that a biomass cogeneration facility would have a range of environmental, social, and economic benefits.
Biomass fuel is a renewable resource that typically comes from forestry byproducts. Creating a use for this material reduces waste, improves forest health and emits far less carbon than would otherwise come from burning slash piles, prescribed burning, or wildfires. Biomass fuel is also cheaper than natural gas, resulting in lower operating costs. Because state and federal agencies are interested in the use of biomass as an alternative fuel source, it is likely that grant funds may be available to help offset the capital construction costs.
If the biomass cogeneration option does not move forward, the two outdated gas-fired boilers will be replaced in the next several years by a natural gas fired cogeneration facility. The University wants to hear from the community before making a decision on whether biomass cogeneration is right for SOU. Please join us at a community meeting on November 12 at 6 p.m. in the Rogue River Room inside Stevenson Union on SOU’s main campus. Visit the project website for more information: