COLUMBIA FALLS, Mont. - For nearly 10 months, FH Stoltze Land and Lumber has been hard at work building a co-generation plant. Now we got the chance to see it up close.
"There's a boiler room, water treatment house, fuel storage silos, an electrostatic precipitator, a water cooling tower," said Stoltze Vice President Chuck Roady.
All of these elements will work together to burn biomass, like bark and sawdust too small for logging. Once open, biomass fuel will power the plant and give electricity to nearly 3000 Flathead Electric Co-op members. Stoltze will also hire 9-13 new employees to staff the facility.
"It's come at a good time," said Roady. "Hopefully our economy is picking up."
Roady tells NBC Montana they've also received funds from the US Forest Service. A $210,000 grant will go towards adding a "trailer dump" to the plant.
"A huge chip van or a van of hog fuel comes in and it would hydraulically dump it in a conveyance system and grind it up," Roady explained. "[It would] eventually burn as fuel in our co-gen."
It's a project the whole community can take pride in.
"Because we have an actual project going on right now with this co-gen it's probably why we were selected to receive this grant," Roady said, "It's all a plus right now and I'm happy Stoltze is part of this community."