Derek Franz

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October 24, 2012
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Property deal for biomass plant moves ahead

The company building the biomass plant in Gypsum is preparing to close on a property deal with LaFarge where the plant will be located.

However, the approximately 90-acre parcel next to the American Gypsum Plant along the Eagle River is more than Eagle Valley Clean Energy LLC needs for the plant. The company will require 18 acres total, including an access road.

At Tuesday's Gypsum Town Council meeting, a lawyer for EVCE announced that the owners of EVCE started a second company, Clear Water Ventures LLC, to settle the property acquisition. Clear Water Ventures will then subdivide the parcel and handle the remaining acreage that isn't needed for the biomass plant.

EVCE has been in talks with Eagle County and Gypsum to turn the remaining acreage - which includes riparian habitat along the Eagle River - into public land or open space.

Gypsum Town Planner Lana Gallegos said the plan for Clear Water Ventures to handle the property acquisition was drafted with input from the town.

"They're not interested in keeping the rest of the property and this will help Eagle Valley Clean Energy move ahead with the biomass plant," Gallegos said.

The plant will be operating sometime around the fall of 2014 and will be among the first biomass operations in Colorado, if not the first. It will generate 11.5 megawatts of electricity annually by burning wood chips.

Most of the wood will be collected from forest lands surrounding Gypsum in a radius of about 75 miles. The wood collection would not compete with logging. Junk wood such as trees killed by pine beetles would be the target fuel source.

Eagle County has also agreed to donate wood collected at the landfill, which is projected to save the county about $15,000 per year in mulching costs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is supporting the plant as well. It recently announced approval of a $40 million loan guarantee to help finance the renewable energy plant.

The project is anticipated to create more than 100 jobs during construction, 60 to 70 of them local, and more than 40 skilled-worker jobs after construction.

Critics of the plant cite concerns over health threats caused by pollution and the aesthetics of such an operation on the Eagle River corridor. Truck traffic and dust are also concerns.

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The VailDaily Updated Oct 24, 2012 01:10PM Published Oct 24, 2012 01:09PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.