Forest Service Awards Nearly $2.5M for Renewable Energy Projects

Woody biomass from restoration projects can be converted to pellets such as these for use as fuel.

Woody biomass from restoration projects can be converted to pellets such as these for use as fuel.

The 2013 Woody Biomass Utilization Grants are here! U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell recently announced this year’s recipients, awarding nearly $2.5 million in grants to 10 small businesses and community groups across the United States.

Administered by the FPL Technology Marketing Unit, the biomass utilization grants support renewable wood-to-energy projects and expand regional economies through rural development and job creation.

“These grants help grow new jobs, support clean energy production and improve our local environments, especially in reducing fire threats,” said Tidwell. “Communities from Massachusetts to Alaska will benefit from the program this year.”

Out of the 17 applications received for the 2013 grants, the Forest Service selected 10 small businesses and community groups. According to the requirements, all 10 recipients provided at least 20 percent of the total project cost. Non-federal matching funds total nearly $6.3 million.

The 2013 woody biomass utilization grantees are:

These projects will use woody material removed from forests during restoration work to enhance wildfire prevention and utilize beetle-killed trees. Some grantees will also process woody biomass in bioenergy facilities, producing energy for heating and electricity. Woody Biomass Utilization Grant funds will support planning of such facilities by funding the engineering services needed for final design, permitting, and cost analysis.

In fiscal year 2012, 20 biomass grant awards from the Woody Biomass Utilization Grant program were made to support American small businesses and community groups. This $3 million investment leveraged more than $400 million of rural development grants and loan guarantees for various woody biomass facilities. The program has contributed to the treatment of more than 500,000 acres, removing and using nearly 5 million green tons of biomass at an average cost of just $66 per acre. Grantees also reported a combined 1,470 jobs created or retained as a result of the grant awards.

The program helps applicants complete the necessary design work needed to secure public or private investment for construction, and has been active since 2005. Since then, more than 150 grants have been awarded to small businesses, non-profits, tribal groups and local state agencies to improve forest health, while creating jobs, green energy and healthy communities.

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