Biomass Recommendation

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Tue, July 10 2012 at 4:21 PM, Updated: Tue, July 10 2012 at 4:31 PM

The state has given a tentative 'green light' to allow a biomass plant in Klamath Falls...but opponents still have a chance to contest that decision.

The recommendation to put a biomass plant across the street from her house wasn't the present that Millicent Fouch was hoping to get on her birthday...

"To ruin the Klamath Basin...it's just not a good thing."

Neighbors claim the plant will result in air, water, and noise pollution.

"And it's especially not good for the 500 adjacent residents because of the impacts and risks to our health and safety."  Notes Paul Fouch, president of 'Save Our Rural Oregon'.

The plant would burn timber slash to generate about 42 megawatts of electricity. 

Backers say the plant would provide jobs, and an economic boost.

"100 million dollar plus facility, that's going to hire about 125 workers."  Says Trey Senn of the Klamath County Economic Development Association.  "It's good for taxes, it's good for the economy, it's good for employment."

Opponents will have a chance this fall to contest the siting...like Paul Fouch, who says he's fighting an uphill battle...

"There's no way to stop it, because they will meet all the laws and criteria at the very minimum."

Millicent Fouch says she hadn't planned on a biomass plant being built across the street from her home of thirty years...

"I think our plans for retirement would have been much different had we known.  It comes as a real severe blow."

Construction on the plant could begin as early as next year if their objections aren't heeded.

No date has yet been set for the 'contested case hearing', though it's likely to be held sometime in late September.  A pre-hearing conference will be held August 20th at the Medford City Hall.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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