The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center is the first power plant in the country to receive the Forest Stewardship Council Chain-of-Custody Certification.
The certification, which the plant received on Oct. 28, will allow GREC to obtain FSC-certified materials from the council’s facilities and designated forests.
According to John Brushwood, the Director of Communications for GREC, the FSC Chain-of-Custody Certification will provide a stricter procedure to monitor the entire forestry process, from the time lumber is taken from the forest to when it is used in the plant.
Gary Dodge, the director of science and certification for FSC, said having the council’s certification is similar to the designation of an organic versus a non-organic apple at a grocery store.
Brushwood said the process for obtaining this certification is a multi-step procedure. The company had to apply for certification and later have an auditor evaluate its entire operations and make suggestions.
After the inspection and implementation of the auditor’s suggestions, GREC was approved as having complied with FSC standards, the “gold standard of the timber industry,” and was certified.
“Every delivery that we receive must comply with FSC’s chain-of-custody standards now that we’re certified as an FSC facility,” Brushwood said.
Brushwood said the cost of obtaining the certification was covered by funding obtained by GREC and other sources, including Gainesville Regional Utilities. Gainesville residents were not affected by the cost.
“It is a cost our company pays for,” Brushwood said. “We elected to get this certification, and we pay for the cost of that certification.”
GRU has a 30-year contract with GREC to share payment of costs and GREC rates with the city of Gainesville. Brushwood said these costs include the infrastructure costs, the price of the fuel to produce the energy that will be used in Gainesville and the delivered energy cost, which is the actual energy the city uses.
Having the certification will allow companies to “have potential to engage in those responsible practices” said Corey Brinkema, president of FSC. These practices involve more use of material that comes from responsible forest management.
GREC wants other companies to be able to obtain this certification and begin engaging in more responsible forestry practices, according to a GREC press release.
“Having this chain-of-custody certification is a great first step,” Dodge said.