F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber of Columbia Falls has been working on replacing it’s hundred year old boiler for several years. The company decided to put in a cogeneration plant using a biomass boiler to burn woody by product from the lumber mill to create steam with a dual purpose. The steam will be used to dry out lumber in the company’s kiln, and to spin a turbine to create energy. Bryan O’Connor is the Steam and Power Plant Manager for Stoltze and said the system will create up to 3 Megawatts of energy for Flathead Electric Co-op.
O’Connor said when Stoltze started looking to replace the boiler, they decided to go with the latest technology.
“This is a much cleaner burning system, which is fantastic,” O’Connor said, “the operators required to operate a plant like this; the experience level, the knowledge level goes up.”
The company teamed up with Flathead Valley Community College to create a new class.
Workforce Training Director Jodi Smith said the First-Class boiler-engineer licensing preparation course created would give students the background for this and other similar positions. Smith said this is the highest licensing for this industry. Before someone can take the course they need to already have a third class boiler engineer license from Montana, and have one year of experience at that level.
“What made this unique is that it had been written into Montana statute that an educational institution could design a training program that would work to substitute some of the experience required to sit for a licensing exam, and nobody had done that before,” Smith said.
The course will start April 9th and run for 9 weeks. O’Connor said – fingers crossed – construction on the plant with its biomass boiler will be done in about 60 days.