The $75 million La Pine biomass power plant, that would create 50 construction jobs for Central Oregon, 20 full time permanent jobs, and 24.9 megawatts of power by burning wood scrap, is in trouble. Concerned Citizens for Clean Air, represented by John Williams of Portland, claims to be opposed to the Biogreen Sustainable Energy Co. based on truck traffic via noise and visual impact.
However, according to media reports (The Bulletin and online news) Williams represented the Oregon State Building Trades in opposing the Cogentrix natural gas power plant proposed in Madras, the Workers for a Livable Oregon, a union group that appealed the PepsiCo plant in Albany and the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 290 that opposed the expansion to the athletic facilities at the University of Oregon. It is also reported that he has been the main spokesperson against several other biomass developments across the nation.
Is organized labor hiding behind environmental concerns and fighting these plants as a bargaining chip to get the project’s developers to commit to an exclusive labor agreement? Reports from various sources indicate that this is exactly what is happening and our regional economy and numerous local contractors and suppliers stand to lose valuable jobs and income.
Biogreen, which could eventually produce enough electricity to power nearly 25,000 Oregon homes, has a critical deadline for local approval of the project in order to qualify for a stimulus-related tax credit.
Following a recent hearing, the La Pine City Council put off a decision on the proposal until a December 29 meeting — just two days before a federal alternative energy tax credits program expires that the firm has been counting on to help fund the project.
We hope the La Pine City Council can read between the lines and step up to the plate to approve this project despite pressure from Williams and the groups he represents. pha