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Auburn, Calif.- The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday changed its focus on efforts to build a biomass facility in the eastern county.

The Board voted to direct staff to cease consideration of Kings Beach as a potential site for a proposed biomass facility and to prepare cost estimates for environmental documents that identify Cabin Creek as the preferred site. Staff anticipates returning to the Board with the cost estimates for preparing an environmental document for a biomass facility at the Cabin Creek site in the near future.

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County staff had been working jointly with Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) on an environmental document for a possible biomass facility in Kings Beach. It was during that environmental review process that a conflict with a TRPA provision regarding noise standards at the Kings Beach site was discovered. Although the proposed site is zoned industrial and is currently occupied by four large back-up diesel generators, TRPA determined the noise impact could not be mitigated.

On Aug. 4, 2011, Placer County received a letter from the TRPA Executive Director formally confirming TRPA’s decision to remove the Kings Beach biomass facility site from further consideration in the joint TRPA/Placer County EIR/EIS document being prepared for the Eastern Placer County biomass project. Without TRPA cooperation, the County could not move forward independently with the environmental analysis of the Kings Beach site. Consequently, the Board took action to remove the Kings Beach site from further consideration for a possible biomass facility.

“The environmental review process is designed to uncover potential issues when we’re reviewing a project,” said Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery whose 5th District includes both Kings Beach and Cabin Creek. “We still support the underlying policy and goals that are included in the County’s Strategic Plan for the Wildfire Protection and Biomass Utilization. Biomass is still a good idea and we will continue to look at it as a way to improve forest health, lower the danger of wildfire and produce energy.”

Information about TRPA’s position was initially conveyed to the Board of Supervisors at its Tahoe area meeting in July. At that meeting, the Board asked staff to return at the Aug. 9 meeting with options for proceeding with the biomass project. Because Cabin Creek is outside the TRPA’s jurisdiction, Placer County can proceed with its own environmental document. Preparation of a draft environmental document for the Cabin Creek site will take approximately six months to complete.

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