In August 2001, two VPS™3 gas turbine-generator sets sold and supplied by Vericor Power Systems began operating at a new 6-megawatt cogeneration facility in Medford, Oregon. The plant was developed under a fast-track schedule to provide electricity and direct exhaust for drying wood fiber at SierraPine Limited's processing plant. The cogeneration facility operates in base load mode, and as of mid 2002, both units logged some 4,000 hours each in service.
SierraPine is a limited partnership of industry leaders, Sierra Pacific Industries and the Timber Products Company. SierraPine Limited, headquartered in Roseville, California, is the third largest manufacturer of particleboard, medium density fiberboard and MDF moulding in North America. Production levels reach one billion square feet across ten U.S. manufacturing divisions.
The company's Medford plant, part of SierraPine's Medite Division, produces one hundred million square feet on a three-quarter basis a year of Medex, Mediate and Permacore fiberboard.
After seeing the pitfalls of power deregulation just south of its borders in California, many companies in Oregon began to think twice about a deregulated power market in their state.
Facing an unresolved energy situation, SierraPine understood the need to decrease its dependence on utility-generated power. SierraPine considered various energy alternatives, including burning sander dust to produce electricity. Nonetheless, the company decided to proceed with a natural gas fueled, gas turbine-based cogeneration facility.
Sierra Pacific, one of SierraPine's owners, has several wood-fired steam driven power plants. However, cogeneration and the use of gas turbines are new to the entire SierraPine organization.
Prior to installing the gas turbine-based cogeneration project, SierraPine dried fiberboard with a dryer that has a 40-mm Btu natural gas burner. Electricity was purchased from the local utility, Pacific Power.
Each VPS™3 genset at the Medford plant ASE™40 3-megawatt gas turbine, equipped with steam injection for NOx control. Vericor Power Systems managed the integration of the ASE40 gas turbines manufactured by Honeywell Engines & Systems, Phoenix, Arizona, with the VPS™ generator sets manufactured at Mendenhall Technical Services, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio.
After a thorough analysis of energy alternatives, SierraPine realized that onsite cogeneration was economically feasible. Once the decision was made, SierraPine worked under a fast-track schedule to bring the VPS3 gas turbine-based plant on line in just three months. By employing this state-of-the-art system, SierraPine has achieved its goal to decrease its dependence on utility-generated power, while providing a reliable premium source to dry fiberboard.