The Modesto Irrigation District would pay 11.2 cents per kilowatt-hour at the start for electricity from orchard wood, under a contract going before its board Tuesday.
The price was disclosed Friday in an MID staff report about a plant proposed for the Beard Industrial District, south of Yosemite Boulevard.
The biomass power would cost more than conventional sources such as natural gas or hydroelectricity. The MID pays an average of 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour from all sources, according to another staff report.
But the biomass would cost much less than the 17 cents per kilowatt-hour the MID has agreed to pay for power from a large solar project proposed for north McHenry Avenue.
The biomass contract includes a 2 percent cap on annual increases in the price.
The 33-megawatt plant, which would supply 9 percent of the MID's power needs, mainly would burn chipped wood from orchards removed for new plantings or development. It also could get limbs pruned from living trees and waste lumber from construction sites.
The plant is proposed by Stephen Endsley of Modesto, a real estate investor and retired cardiologist, and Robert Ellery, who owns a Hayward boiler company. They are counting on a federal economic stimulus grant to cover 30 percent of the $80 million-plus construction cost.
Proponents say that even with the above-average cost, the plant is worthwhile because it would cleanly burn a fuel that long has been torched in the open on farms. A state law has phased out most open burning, but some remains under exemptions.
Also Tuesday, the board will consider certifying a report that found that the plant would not have a major impact on the environment. Critics have questioned whether the planned emission controls are adequate.
The board will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the district office, 1231 11th St., Modesto. More information about the proposed wood burner is at www.mid.org/biomass.