Once more in it's troubled history, the power plant in Bieber which recently resumed operations and was actually generating power has shut down laying off about 12 employees. Notices were given out Friday June 18.
In an earlier interview with one of the plants investors, Art Lance from Redding, it was disclosed that Big Valley Power had re-negotiated a contract with PG and E to sell electricity at a much more favorable rate. This new rate was based on the fact that renewable energy (green power) from burning wood chips was desired by PG and E because it gave them a tax break. Mr. Lance expressed hope that this new contract with PG and E, along with a supposedly viable source of fuel from the National Forest would enable them to actually sustain operations. It turns out that this was an overly optimistic outlook.
It seems like bad luck follows this operation. It was originally planned to start operation September 2009 as a power plant, but regulatory delays and stalling by PG and E postponed opening the plant till April 2010.
According to Art Lance, the reluctant decision to terminate the employees came because it was realized that in order for the power plant to remain profitable, it had to be a part of a lumber mill operation. Plans are to finish installing some mill equipment and be back on line as a mill and power plant late August to early September 2010.
Big Valley should keep it's hopes up and not loose faith in the
mill/power plant as the local investors have already sunk in a lot of
time and money and they are not likely to give up now.