WASHINGTON, DC -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the award of nearly $3 million in grants to 17 small businesses and community groups to develop wood-to-energy projects that require engineering services and will help expand regional economies and create new jobs.


"Biomass is a vital part of America's clean energy future as we work to decrease our dependence on foreign oil," said Vilsack. "Projects like these will help grow regional economies, create new jobs, and improve and protect our environment. We will need architects and engineers to design these plants, skilled laborers to build them and well-trained technicians to operate them."


These projects will use woody material removed from forests during projects such as wildfire prevention, and that woody biomass will be processed in bioenergy facilities to produce green energy for heating and electricity. The awardees will use funds from the Woody Biomass Utilization Grant program to further the planning of such facilities by funding the engineering services necessary for final design, permitting and cost analysis.


Examples of possible projects include the engineering design of a woody biomass boiler for steam at a sawmill, a non-pressurized hot water system for a hospital or school, and a biomass-power generation facility. The grant program helps applicants complete the necessary design work needed to secure public or private investment for construction.


The Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization grant program has been in effect since 2005 and has provided more than $33 million toward various projects, ranging from biomass boilers for schools and prisons, to helping businesses acquire equipment that improves processing efficiencies. During this time period, 140 grants have been awarded to small businesses, non-profits, tribes and local state agencies to improve forest health, while creating jobs, green energy and healthy communities.


The Forest Service selected 17 small businesses and community groups as grant recipients for these awards. According to the requirements, all 17 recipients provided at least 20 percent of the total project cost. Non-federal matching funds total nearly $8 million.


The Forest Service's State and Private Forestry, Technology Marketing Unit, at the agency's Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis. administers the grant program. The recipients were chosen from 34 applications.


The following are the 2011 woody biomass utilization grantees:


2011 Woody Biomass Utilization Grantees


Matanuska-Susitna Borough


Palmer, AK $80,000


Placer County


Auburn, CA $50,000


Kiara Solar


Dublin, CA $250,000


Trinity River Lumber


Weaverville, CA $250,000


Community Power Corporation


Littleton, CO $125,000


Idaho Forest Group


Coeur d'Alene, ID $135,000


Yellowstone Power


Emmet, ID $250,000


EcoPower Generation, LLC


Lexington, KY $250,000


Stoltze Land & Lumber


Columbia Falls, MT $190,720


Pyramid Mountain Lumber, Inc.


Seeley Lake, MT $202,727


University of Montana


Missoula, MT $250,000


Burrows Paper Corporation


Little Falls, NY $250,000


New York Power Authority


White Plains, NY $250,000


City of Vernonia


Vernonia, OR $25,000


ColPac Quinault Indian Nation


Montesano, WA $50,000


Thilmany LLC


Kaukauna, WI $132,400


University of Wisconsin--Superior


Superior, WI $250,000

Source: USDA Forest Service

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