Storm Derbris Becomes Energy to Power Duluth

22,000 Homes Are Being Powered By the Trees

Trees in Duluth lost branches, tops, and some were even left ripped completely out at the roots, after a heavy rainstorm in July.

Many people mourned losing beautiful and familiar trees right out of their yards, but those trees didn’t die in vain.

Those trees are actually being converted to energy at the Hibbard Energy Center in Duluth, to power more than 20,000 homes in the community, for around 2 weeks.

“We bring it in on a truck and it goes in to the facility, and we run it through a boiler to create steam,” said Frank Frederickson, the General Manager of Minnesota Power’s Hydro and Biomass Renewable Operations. “We have two uses for steam. One is, we send a steam supply to the Verso Paper Mill 24/7, 365 days a year, and the 2nd use for the steam is to spin an electric generator to create the dispatchable renewable energy for our customers.”

Biomass energy makes up around 2 to 3 percent of the energy that is generated by Minnesota Power.

“2005, we were 95 percent coal powered and 5 percent renewable, and last year we were over 25 percent renewable, and now under that, under 75 percent for coal fire power,” said Fredrickson.

Biomass is not only a renewable energy source but helps create jobs in the community, like logging, yard service, truckers, and people who work at the facility.

It’s a resourceful way to get the storm debris out of the city, and put it back into the community, instead of leaving it to pile up in landfills.

“It’s something that’s not harmful to the environment and anything we can do to reduce our impact on the environment is what we’re always striving for,” said Dave Rannetsberger, the Manager of Renewable Operations at Minnesota Power.

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