Monday, October 13, 2008

On Its Own Power: United Corrstack Constructing Power Plant

For OUTBOUND home page, go to

Article Source: By Tony Lucia, Reading Eagle, Pennsylvania

With energy costs on the upswing, it's no wonder that people are starting to look seriously at ways of providing at least some of their own energy.

That's true of businesses as well. At United Corrstack, with its plant and headquarters at 720 Laurel St., the issue was conveyed starkly by David F. Stauffer, vice president and general manager.

"We would go out of business without an energy solution," Stauffer said. Stauffer said the firm's costs for energy -- natural gas, oil and electricity -- have risen 250 percent since 2000.

Corrstack's solution? A power plant, taking shape on an adjacent tract, which Corrstack purchased from Cambridge-Lee Industries, to the south of its existing property.

Still under construction but set to begin operating early next year, the plant consists of what is called a fluidized bed boiler, which will burn only biomass -- organic materials, such as wood and agricultural waste -- and a steam turbine.

The steam will be used in Corrstack's production -- it is used to dry the product, in a process Stauffer compared to the way steam is used in a steam iron -- as well as to power the turbine and generate electricity.

The firm makes what is known as recycled corrugating medium, which is the paper that other firms corrugate and glue between two kraft liners to form brown paperboard boxes. The word immense hardly does justice to the scale of Corrstack's 192-foot-high project, which Stauffer said will be one of the tallest buildings in the city.

On the east side, which remains open so that supplies can be brought in by crane, workers appear minuscule on the 19 floors of the building as they labor to bring it to completion. The plant's stack towers above it at 220 feet.

Corrstack's owner, Interstate Resources of Arlington, Va., which is a division of the Lebanese conglomerate INDEVCO, created a separate entity, Evergreen Community Power, under which name the power plant will operate, Stauffer said.

Stauffer said the $115 million project is the most costly Interstate Resources has undertaken. In addition to positioning Corrstack as energy independent, Evergreen has other positives. Stauffer said it will create 25 jobs to add to the 75 at Corrstack. Also, it will produce more energy than Corrstack can use: about 25 megawatts total.

"We will be a net exporter of electricity," he said.

Because of differences in cost between wholesale and retail prices of electricity, the plan is to sell all of 25 megawatts into the grid, and then buy back the 9 megawatts it will take to operate the plant, Stauffer said.

The plant also will provide enough power to operate another plant which may be constructed on the Evergreen tract.

Called Cedarpak, it would produce kraft paper, which then could be combined with the corrugating medium by customers such as Interstate Container, a sister firm located not far away at Grace and Meade streets, to form boxes and containers. Stauffer said Interstate Container would be a large customer, but not the largest, for the products.

No final decision has been made on whether Cedarpak will be built, he said.

Corrstack and its parent had been exploring energy options for several years, and arrived at the biomass boiler after studying the success of that technology at a Georgia plant owned by Interstate Resources.

"The boiler is thermal- and emissions-efficient," Stauffer said. "For every ton of biomass, we're getting the most out of it thermally and with the lowest amount of emissions and the least amount of particulates."

The issue of whether it could fi nd suffi cient fuel was solved when it found Processing and Recycling Inc., a Maidencreek Township division of W.D. Zwicky & Son Inc., North Heidelberg Township. The firm had the capability to supply the approximate 900 tons of biomass that will be required daily. About 60 trucks a day, operating between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., will deliver the fuel to Evergreen.

Corrstack did community outreach on Evergreen, making certain that neighborhood residents were kept in the loop, and worked closely with the city. It also worked with the state Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that it would produce the lowest amount of allowable emissions.

Stauffer said the expansion plans demonstrate Corrstack's commitment to Reading. "They know we're here," he said. "We're not going to build this and leave."

Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment