Oil & Gas 360 Publishers Note: I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Alaska and have enjoyed all of my trips. This is an excellent article of a coal company morphing into a bio mass company. If run properly this could be an excellent source for renewable power in Alaska. We will try and interview the team on the Energy Expert 360 Network. 


Alaskas coal producer Usibelli Mines

Chad Schumacher, general Manager at Auroa Energy Solutions: Joe Usibelli Jr. managing member of Usibelli Investments and Rob Brown president of Aurora Energy Solutions.

The company announced Friday that it has acquired Superior Pellet Fuels of Fairbanks, a manufacturer of wood pellets and compressed wood logs for local markets.

Aurora Energy Solutions, a new Usibelli subsidiary, will also construct a new-technology wood kiln using waste heat from a local coal-fired power plant operated by Usibelli subsidiary Aurora Energy.

Fairbanks has serious winter air quality problems created in part by emissions from wood-burning stoves widely used in the community that use wet wood for fuel. Drying the wood reduces harmful emissions.
Usibelli owns and operates a coal mine at Healy, 115 miles south of Fairbanks, to supply coal to power plants at Interior Alaska military installations, the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and its own Aurora Energy plant in Fairbanks itself.

“This new facility will allow for the production of kiln-dried firewood that is far more efficient as a home-heating resource, while also greatly reducing the emissions from wood burning,” said Joe Usibelli Jr., Managing Member of Usibelli Investments.

The kiln will produce clean-burning dry firewood that, along with expanded sales of wood pellets and compressed logs, will help the community achieve required reductions in PM 2.5 emissions. Fairbanks has been out of compliance for years with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards because of local temperature inversions during cold winter weather that concentrate pollutants at low levels in the community, creating health hazards.

Use of local firewood is popular with local residents because it is inexpensive relative to the cost of oil heating, but the wood is typically wet and its smoke is a major contributor to high concentrations of PM 2.5 particulates in the air, the source of health problems. While a small local natural gas utility is expanding using trucked liquefied natural gas, developing ways to use cleaner biomass from Interior Alaska forests is also seen as a solution.

Fairbanks state legislators praised the development.

“The Interior has long been plagued by high energy prices and air quality issues. This community-based, private sector solution by Usibelli and Aurora Energy, along with clean-burning natural gas will be essential elements in bringing our community into attainment,” said Rep. Bart LeBon, R-Fairbanks

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