A biomass generation plant serving a giant Department of Energy installation has been delivered under the largest Energy Savings Performance Contract to date.

The 20 MW biomass power facility will provide roughly 30% of the 310 square mile Savannah River Site‘s power needs once it becomes fully operational in 2012. During six weeks of performance tests the biomass facility produced more than 3 million kilowatt hours of power.

The three-unit SRS biomass cogeneration facility was built by Ameresco under a $795 million energy savings performance contract awarded in May 2009 as part of a 19 year agreement that could save $944 million in energy, water, operations and maintenance savings over the life of the contract, the company said. The facility replaces coal and oil-fired generation at SRS, and is fueled by roughly 325,000 tons of local forest residue and wood chips each year.

“This project exemplifies how renewable power can meet the electrical demands of the nation’s largest federal facilities while reducing energy and water costs through energy efficient technology,” Ameresco executive vice president and Federal Operations general manager said in announcing DOE’s acceptance of the biomass facility.

Learn more about energy savings performance contracts from an earlier Breaking Energy conversation with senior Ameresco executives here.

The project is “the large largest single-source of performance-based renewable energy savings underway in the federal government through the ESPC program,” the company said.

Performance savings contracting is becoming an increasingly common mechanism for funding public infrastructure projects. Long project timelines but difficulty in obtaining financing at a time of tight budgets allows contractors specializing in EPSCs to build new energy infrastructure and guarantee savings while still making a profit over the life of the contract.