Placer County and the Genesis of a Biomass Plant in the Basin


The long range roots of this issue shall not be addressed here except to point out that biomass plants do produce green energy (renewable) and therefore are generally viewed favorably, thereby often receiving governmental funding.  And, such plants coincide with California’s goals toward a renewable energy future.  The current roots of proposing a power plant in the Basin (originally a site near Burton Creek at the Sheriff’s Sub Station near Lake Forest was also considered) were financed by $2 million in earmarks first from former Representative Doolittle and most recently from Senator Feinstein to advance the utilization of biomass somewhere in Placer County.  The earmarks did not specify location.  This is not enough money to finance the construction, but it has enabled Placer County and the TRPA to propose, advocate, and generate the necessary environmental documents. 


The earmarked grants are administered by the Department of Energy (DOE) to assure that federal regulations are adhered to during the disbursement process.


Unfortunately, this well intended idea became a bad idea when it was discovered that the easiest place to locate such a power plant was within the Tahoe Basin because only there, Placer County came to believe, was the air clean enough to permit a polluting power plant.  From this point forward the drive of bureaucrats wishing to maintain employment coupled with the well established dysfunctional nature of combined and confused jurisdictional governance at Tahoe made this issue acquire a life all its own.  What was and is counter-intuitive and a scientific environmental travesty has become associated with false claims designed to propel it forward.  It would be laughable were it not endorsed by two governing agencies that have come to believe their own propaganda.


As incoherent as the now famous earmark financed “bridge to nowhere,” this project has become the “biomass power plant to nowhere.”


As mentioned elsewhere in this website, Friends of Lake Tahoe is not opposed to biomass energy facilities except in a location that is detrimental to the environment, such as in the Tahoe Basin.