USDA awards $32M in wood innovations and community grants

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than $32 million was awarded by the USDA to fund wood innovations and community grants. Projects to support bioenergy, biofuel, and biobased product production are among those to receive funding.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the 2022 funding is bolstered by $12 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Funding awarded through the programs also leverages $93 million in partner funds, bringing the total to more than $125 million for the 99 funded projects.

USDA “Wood innovation and community wood grants projects like these show us how we can tackle problems like the wildfire crisis and climate change while creating new markets, supporting jobs, building affordable housing, and improving conditions on our forests at the same time,” Vilsack said. “Removing hazardous trees that would otherwise threaten wildfire-prone communities and having rural, forest-based economies turn those materials into renewable building and energy products, stand as examples of how a clean energy economy is within reach.”

The USDA selected 21 projects to receive funding under the Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation Grant Program, which was launched in 2020 and provides funding for grants to install thermally led community wood energy systems or to build innovative wood product manufacturing facilities.

Among the 21 projects selected for funding are:
Southeast Conference—Ketchikan, Alaska: $903,100 to support Southeast Alaska containerized pellet mill plan
City of Nenana—Nenana, Alaska: $689,110 to support the Nenana biomass district heat system
San Carlos Apache Tribe—San Carlos, Arizona: $1 million to support the San Carlos Apache Tribe wood energy system, lumber dry kiln, and planing mill
Tuolumne Biomass LLC and Heartwood Biomass LLC—Chinese Camp, California: $800,000 for support innovative biomass utilization in Tuolumne County, California
Aemetis Advanced Products Riverbank Inc.—Riverbank, California: $642,077 to support small, commercial-scale production of “carbon zero” biofuels from forest biomass
Northstar Community Services District—Truckee, California: $1 million to support the Northstar Community Services District biomass energy system
Alpenglow Timber LLC—Truckee, California: $911,000 to support thermal wood energy to support the new sawmill project
Pagosa Forest Products LLC—Pagosa Springs, Colorado: $730,993 to support a briquette and biochar manufacturing facility
Mala Mills—Little Falls, Minnesota: $884,449 to support a waste bark to energy biomass burner project
Continuum at North Conway LLC—North Conway, New Hampshire: $1 million to support the Ridgeline Assisted Living Community Wood Chip fueled district heating and cooling plant
Mt. Bachelor LLC—Bend, Oregon: $1.5 million to showcase advanced wood energy at Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort
Iron Triangle LLC—John Day, Oregon: $572,170 to support the Iron Triangle wood waste to energy project
Nicolet Hardwoods Corp.—Laona, Wisconsin: $580,633 to support a biomass energy project
An additional 78 projects were selected for funding under the Wood Innovation Grants Program. Launched in 2015, the program stimulates and expands wood products and wood energy markets.

Among the 78 projects selected to receive 2022 program funding are:
Alaska Energy Authority—Anchorage, Alaska: $112,500 for a biomass system training and audit program
Joe Dirt Excavating Inc.—Williams, Arizona: $250,000 for woody biomass/wood biomass dryer, grinder, and briquette machine
University of California Berkeley—Berkeley, California: $102,529 for tools to forest biofuels market development in California
North Fork Lumber Co.—Korbel, California: $250,000 for 5-megawatt (MW) biomass cogeneration design and permitting
University of California—Merced, California: $207,361 to develop natural fiber insulation material from forest biochar for sustainable fire-resistant buildings
Yosemite Clean Energy LLC—Oroville, California: $250,000 for engineering to support the development of wood waste for a biofuel gasification plant in Northern Sierra Nevada
Earth Foundries Inc.—Saratoga, California: $250,000 for SF Bay area targeted biochar marketing strategy implementation
Takachar Ltd.—Ukiah, California: $100,000 to support reducing the logistical barriers for utilizing non-merchantable wood as renewable biofuels and bioproducts
Mount Lassen Power Inc.—Westwood, California: $250,000 for Mount Lassen Power Wood Energy Expansion—biomass power plant restart project
Yale University—New Haven, Connecticut: $133,167 to support a multi-stakeholder dialogue and analysis initiative on the impacts, benefits, and challenges of bioenergy from forests
Roberts Energy Renewables Inc.—Ashfield, Massachusetts: $250,000 to support the Ashfield Combined Biochar and Power Facility
Maine Woods Co.—Portage, Maine: $250,000 to support high steam energy from wood biomass residuals           
Biocultural Connections—The Climate Conservancy—Mora, New Mexico: $57,101 to support biomass energy in the wildland-urban
Brookside Lumber Inc.—Moravia, New York: $151,130 to support a Heizomat wood chip boiler installation with integrated Cyclone/ESP emission control for kiln drying and heating of sawmill buildings
Red Rock Biofuels Holdings Inc.—Klamath Falls, Oregon: $244,700 for the conversion of post-fire charred waste woody biomass to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel
Heartwood Biomass LLC—Wallowa, Oregon: $236,740 to support a project titled Stacking Value: Connecting forest restoration, biochar, heat, and carbon
Virginia Department of Forestry—Charlottesville, Virginia: $250,000 for expanding new markets for biochar via collaboration and project demonstration
University of California Davis—Pullman, Washington: $250,000 for prototype biochar permeable interlocking concrete pavers from low-value slash piles 


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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).