Environmental Support for Biomass Plant

Environmental Support for Biomass Plant

Location: Warrenton, Ga.

Client: Oglethorpe Power Corp.

Completion Date: 2011

Oglethorpe Power Corp. (OPC) retained Burns & McDonnell to provide a variety of environmental services related to a proposed 100-megawatt biomass power plant proposed near Warrenton in Warren County, Ga. Because the project would be financed through a loan guaranteed by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), OPC was required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the guidance of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Burns & McDonnell prepared several reports and studies for OPC to submit to RUS and use in the development of the EIS.

  • Alternatives evaluation
  • Siting study
  • Agency coordination
  • Assistance at scoping meetings
  • Environmental analysis
  • Noise study
  • Traffic study
  • Cultural resources surveys
  • Environmental permitting

The Warren County project would provide a reliable, long-term supply of renewable and sustainable energy at a reasonable cost to meet part of OPC's contractual obligations to provide electric energy to its member cooperatives. Numerous alternative sites throughout Georgia were evaluated prior to the selection of the preferred site in Warren County.

Alternatives Report

Burns & McDonnell prepared an Alternatives Report that included sections on the purpose and need for the new facility, all capacity alternatives and an evaluation of a site selection study for the project. This report determined that two new biomass plants should be constructed in Warren and Appling counties to meet the future energy needs of OPC. The Alternatives Report was reviewed by RUS and published for public review and scoping.

Scoping and Scoping Report

Two public scoping meetings took place near the Warren and Appling county sites to obtain public comment on the issues that should be studied during the environmental process. In addition, an agency scoping meeting took place at OPC's offices in Tucker, Ga. Burns & McDonnell assisted in the development and production of materials and displays for the project scoping meetings required under NEPA. After receiving comments from the public, Burns & McDonnell analyzed the comments according to issues that need to be addressed in the EIS. The summary of the scoping meetings, agency coordination and analysis of scoping comments were prepared and compiled into a Scoping Report that was submitted to RUS.

Environmental Impact Statement

According to RUS guidance for electric generating projects, the project requires an EIS. Burns & McDonnell prepared an Environmental Report (ER) to be used as supporting documentation for the EIS for this project. This ER was reviewed by RUS and provided to the third-party contractor for use in writing the EIS.

Burns & McDonnell obtained aerial photography and topographic maps for the project area. Burns & McDonnell also collected digital data and traditional information on urban areas, jurisdictional boundaries, roads, cultural resources, wetlands, land use, recreational facilities, state and federal lands, hydrology, and public facilities for the site to be used the ER.

In support of the ER, Burns & McDonnell completed field visits to the preferred and alternate project sites. Geographic information systems and a global positioning system were used to economize the collection of digital data from the field.

Burns & McDonnell also prepared several reports and studies for and use in the development of the EIS. These included a noise study and traffic study for the preferred site, and cultural resources reports for both the preferred and alternate sites. The EIS process is ongoing and it is anticipated to be completed in 2011.

Environmental Permitting

The Burns & McDonnell Atlanta office provided water and wastewater permitting support for the project. The project proposed use of reclaimed water from the City of Warrenton's new wastewater treatment plant and purchased water from Thomson-McDuffie. All industrial and domestic wastewater would be discharged to Warrenton's wastewater treatment plant. This effort involves considerable coordination between the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, OPC, OPC's legal counsel and the City of Warrenton.