DTE Energy Services is acquiring an interest in the 49.5-megawatt Mt. Poso Cogeneration Company power plant near Bakersfield, Calif., and will operate the plant and co-lead its conversion to operate on 100-percent biomass fuel, according to a press release. The biomass will be primarily wood fuel derived from urban wood waste, tree trimmings and agricultural residues.

One of Mt. Poso”s three current partners, MacPherson Oil, will continue to have an ownership and management interest in the plant. The other two partners, Northern Star Generation and Red Hawk Energy, are selling their interest. Red Hawk Energy has been instrumental in developing the biomass conversion project, according to DTE.

DTE has completed a similar biomass conversion in Cassville, Wis. and has another under way in Stockton, Calif. The company also operates biomass power plants in Woodland, Calif. and Mobile, Ala.

DTEES, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., acquires, develops, builds, owns and operates projects for large, energy-intensive industrial customers. The company is a subsidiary of DTE Energy, a diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide, with operations in 26 states.

The Mt. Poso plant began operation in 1989 and it employs the best available control technologies to minimize air emissions, uses no potable water (water supply comes from the Mt. Poso oil field), and maintains zero discharge of solid and liquid wastes.

The plant currently operates on a blend of coal, petroleum coke, and tire-derived fuel. Operating on biomass fuel, the plant will produce about 44 megawatts of power, enough to supply the electricity needs of about 35,000 homes.

Following the conversion, the plant will provide power to PG&E under a long-term renewable power purchase agreement. The plant will help PG&E meet California”s 33-percent renewable power requirement.

The conversion of the facility to burn renewable biomass is under way and is expected to be complete in 2012.

The conversion will employ approximately 90 construction workers at peak. Permanent employment at the plant will increase from 28 today to 38 when the conversion is complete. In addition, the project will create additional jobs and business activity through agreements with fuel suppliers and other companies that will provide services to the plant.