The Texas Logging Council met at Hotel Fredonia Saturday for an annual meeting, and two local power company representatives discussed future plans for biomass plants in the area. Stephen McInnis, Nacogdoches Power fuel procurement manager, gave an update on the 100-megawatt biomass plant to be built in Sacul in northern Nacogdoches County. The facility will be located off state Hwy. 204 on a 238-acre site, and the energy produced will be used in Austin. Approximately 70 percent of the biomass supply will be from logging debris, while the remaining 30 percent will come from residual chips and sawdust from existing sawmills or municipal wood waste streams. The plant will produce enough energy for 65,000 households, or about 7 percent of Austin's electricity needs, he said. McInnis said the economy is making things difficult, but plans for the plant are moving forward. "The lending atmosphere right now is very tight, but I really think we're going to see this thing under way in short order," McInnis said. Nacogdoches Power has already made significant steps toward building the plant. The company has acquired necessary environmental permits, water permits, construction contracts and biomass supply contracts, McInnis said. The county commissioners recently approved a tax abatement for the biomass plant, and County Judge Joe English estimated construction of the facility would begin some time this summer. Danny Vines, president of Aspen Power, also updated the crowd on a new 50-megawatt biomass plant in Lufkin. The proposed $90 million facility will use 525,000 tons of biomass annually, he said. Vines elaborated on the environmental aspect of biomass fuels. The plant will use up to 800,000 or 900,000 gallons of water per day on a heavy use day, he said, though he was quick to add that biomass is more efficient than coal. Biomass plants are becoming more popular, partly due to the huge, untapped supply of materials. Vines said there are 8.6 billion pounds of logging debris generated annually, but more than 95 percent of those biomass materials go unused. Aspen Power representatives are in the process of securing air permits, but the facility is still at the center of controversy. Aspen Power's previous air permit was revoked after residents accused the company of forging signatures on letters of support, and now the Travis County District Attorney's office is pursuing felony charges against Aspen Power. The Environmental Protection Agency halted construction of the plant, though Aspen Power appealed that decision. Vines previously denied the company's involvement in the forgeries. He did not address the pending lawsuit during Saturday's meeting.