Kremmling plant set to begin wood pellet production | SkyHiNews.com

Kremmling plant set to begin wood pellet production

KATIE LOOBY
SKY-HI DAILY NEWS

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

Colorado’s first pellet mill is a step closer to opening this week, says Confluence Energy CEO Mark Mathis.

On Tuesday, the Town of Kremmling approved the plant’s drainage plan, and on Monday it passed a fire inspection. Today, the plant hopes to receive its certificate of occupancy from the county, in order to begin creating “Eco-Flame Pellets.”

Kremmling Mayor Thomas Clark, who has been behind the project, is looking forward to its opening.

“It’s going to be really good for us because it’s going to bring jobs,” he said. “It’s bringing something that we haven’t had here in Kremmling for a while ” industry.”

Confluence Energy Pellet Plant will hire 25 people and create an additional 50 logging and truck driving jobs, Mathis said.

“It’s exciting to be part of the forefront,” Clark said. “Trees are just a long-life crop.

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They have to be harvested, or they harvest themselves. Why waste all these resources that we’ve got?”

Fifteen people are currently employed at the plant, Mathis said.

Construction began on the south edge of Kremmling in late November. The plant produces wood pellets for home heating pellet stoves, commercial and industrial heating applications. Pellets are 60 percent cheaper than propane or electricity, and 35 percent less expensive than natural gas, Mathis said.

Loads of fuel have been delivered to the mill by the truckload, and piles of logs are stacked at the site.

Mathis said 75 to 85 percent of the material is not usable for other wood products.

“We’re taking the good logs out, separating them out, and we sell them as house logs and we sell them as post and pole,” he said. “Our goal here is to put the highest value of the material so we can pull more money for the material to offset the costs that it costs to get out of the woods right now.

“So we’ll take the good buyable stuff, put the highest value used to it, take the rest of it, which is 70 to 80 percent of it, and crush it up and make renewable fuel … Everything that comes in here will be used.”

Even bark from the trees will be made into mulch, he said.

The mill plans to operate about 300 days per year. It will offer three grades of pellets: standard, premium and super premium. The only difference among in the three is ash content. Standard grade fuel is usually up to 3 percent ash content, premium grade is less than 1 percent, and super premium is less than 0.5 percent.

Mathis has invested $8 million to $10 million in the operation, he said.

Beetle-killed trees are the feed stock the plant uses to make the wood pellets, Mathis added.

“There was an opportunity with all the beetle kill, and we thought somebody had to do something with it,” he said. “Nobody was pulling the trigger.”

The plant will emit a plume of steam in the winter, but the emissions are mostly moisture from drying the chips, he said.

Pellets are becoming more popular because of rising fossil fuel prices and the clean burn pellets give versus fire wood. Pellet stoves can even be used on no-burn days in Denver, Mathis said.

It also will reduce pollution, he said. “The normal pellet stove is five times cleaner than the cleanest wood stove.”

In Kremmling, Ghostwood Frontiers and Northwest Ranch Supply will offer pellets in Kremmling by the bag.

” Katie Looby can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19601 or e-mail klooby@grandcountynews.com.

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