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Published March 31, 2010, 11:01 AM

Plans for Kansas biomass operation fail

DIGHTON, Kan. — The economic downturn around the world has stymied plans for a large biomass operation in Lane County.

DIGHTON, Kan. — The economic downturn around the world has stymied plans for a large biomass operation in Lane County.

The Prairie Fire BioEnergy Cooperative began in 2007 as a plan to use crop waste for energy and help area farmers. The plant was based in Healy.

In February 2008, Sunflower Electric Cooperative announced plans to collaborate with Prairie Life to explore using biomass instead of coal at Sunflower’s Holcomb power plant.

But Prairie Fire began producing hybrid pellets because of equipment problems and the struggling economy. And a potential market in Europe collapsed.

Walter Johnson is vice president of the First State Bank of Healy and treasurer of an investment group that started the venture. He says the cooperative officially closed in early February and the bank is seeking a buyer for the plant.

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