Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan announced projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for wood-to-energy and biomass utilization. These 30 projects, funded at $57 million—$49 million for wood-to-energy grants and $8 million for biomass utilization—are located in 14 states.
“These projects will promote the development of biofuels from wood and help private sector businesses to establish renewable-energy infrastructure and accelerate availability in the marketplace,” Merrigan said. “Additionally, hazardous fuels reduction projects utilize biomass from forested lands that, when left untreated, increase wildland fire risks to communities and natural resources.”
In keeping with the Obama administration’s interest in innovative sources for energy, these ARRA funds may help to create markets for small diameter wood and low value trees removed during forest restoration activities.
This work will result in increased value of biomass generated during forest restoration projects, the removal of economic barriers to using small diameter trees and woody biomass, and generation of renewable energy from woody biomass. These funds also may help communities and entrepreneurs turn residues from forest restoration activities into marketable energy products. Projects were nominated by forest service regional offices and selected nationally through a competitive basis on objective criteria.
Biomass utilization also provides additional opportunities for removal of hazardous fuels on federal forests and grasslands and on lands owned by state and local governments, private organizations and individual landowners. A listing of the state-by-state breakdown of the wood-to-energy and biomass utilization projects can be found at fs.usda.gov.