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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Power plant would pump millions into economy

From an article by Nick Halter in the Wausau Daily Herald:

A biomass power plant in Rothschild will give a much-needed shot in the arm to a Wisconsin pulpwood industry that has suffered a 20 percent reduction in demand for wood over recent years.

The plant, proposed for the grounds of the Domtar paper mill, would create more than 100 logging jobs and 20 to 30 power plant jobs, according to studies of a proposed biomass plant in Ashland, said Terry Mace, forest product specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The average salary for both loggers and power plant employees is about $32,000, Mace said. Although the plant's construction still must be approved by the state Public Service Commission, forestry industry workers already are anticipating fresh demand for their products.

Based on the amount of wood sold to the plant and the jobs it would create, $22.7 million would be injected to the local economy each year if the plant were completed on time in 2013, said Roger Nacker, a natural resource economist for the Wisconsin Economic Development Institute.

The closures of three Wisconsin paper mills in the past few years --including the Wausau paper pulp mill in Brokaw and the Domtar mill in Port Edwards -- have reduced the state's demand for pulpwood from around 3.2 million cords per year in the mid-2000s to 2.5 million in 2007 and 2008, Mace said.

The closures, combined with the downturn in home construction, have been hurting many local loggers.

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