United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week a partnership agreement to expand wood energy use, which will help improve the safety and health of our nation’s forests. The new partnership includes USDA, the Alliance for Green Heat, the Biomass Power Association, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, and the Pellet Fuels Institute.
Vilsack also announced more than $1.1 million in grants being awarded to five organizations to form state-wide teams that will stimulate development of wood energy projects. Grant recipients are:
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Saint Paul
- Idaho Governors Office of Energy Resources, Boise
- The Watershed Research & Training Center, Hayfork, California
- North Country Resource Conservation & Development Council, Gilford, New Hampshire
- The Alaska Energy Authority, Anchorage
Collectively, $2.9 million will be spent on this effort — $1.1 million in federal funds and $1.8 million in non-federal funds. Vilsack said the partnership will help find innovative ways to use leftover wood to create renewable energy and support good jobs in rural America.
“Wood to energy efforts are a part of our ‘all of the above’ energy strategy,” Vilsack said. “Appropriately scaled wood energy facilities also support our efforts to remove hazardous fuels and reduce the risks of catastrophic wildfires.”
The partnership agreement focuses on promoting wood energy nationwide as a means to address fire risk, bolster rural economic development, improve air quality and help meet the Obama Administration’s renewable energy and energy efficiency goals. These organizations support the use of wood energy across the scale of users, including residential, commercial and institutional facilities as well as industrial production of heat and/or electricity to drive businesses and feed the electrical grid.
Click HERE for more information on the agreement program.