NORPAC, BPA, Cowlitz PUD partner on Northwest energy efficiency project

Longview, Wash., August 10, 2012 – Executives from Weyerhaeuser, Nippon Paper Industries, Cowlitz County Public Utility District, and the Bonneville Power Administration will gather at the North Pacific Paper Corp. (NORPAC) facility to celebrate the largest industrial energy efficiency project in BPA history.

When complete, the project is expected to save 100,000,000 kWh per year. The energy savings from the completed project will save enough energy to serve about 8,000 Northwest homes. The first phase of the project was completed in June 2011 and the second and final phase is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2013.

The project, referred to as a “Chip Pre-Treatment Interstage Screen Project,” adds two new components to the NORPAC facility. The first change to the mill is the addition of the chip pre-treatment equipment.

This equipment treats wood chips with steam and chemicals prior to refining the chips into pulp, resulting in reduced pulp bleaching and brightening costs. The second feature of the project is the inter-stage screening.

Prior to the new screening process, wood chips were ground through two stages of refining. These refining machines are driven by numerous electric motors that require thousands of connected horsepower, which makes the refining process very energy intensive.

The inter-stage screening process now allows paper-ready fibers (wood fibers that do not require additional refining) to bypass the second stage of refining, which results in significant electrical energy savings.

NORPAC purchases power for its industrial operation through Cowlitz County PUD. Working through Cowlitz, BPA will fund installation of screening equipment between refiners at the paper mill. The new processes will reduce electricity and chemicals used in the refining process, reducing the environmental impact.

BPA will fund about $21 million and Cowlitz County PUD will contribute up to an additional $3.9 million towards the project. The money contributed by both BPA and Cowlitz comes from their respective conservation funds, which provide financial incentives to their customers for the development and installation of electrical energy savings projects. NORPAC is funding the remaining $35 million of the $60 million project.

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