SALEM — Governor Kitzhaber today announced that the state received the nation’s first grant to support a wood-energy cluster pilot project with the United States Forest Service. The project focuses on developing biomass energy cluster projects that use materials from forest restoration treatments to provide heat and power to schools, hospitals, commercial buildings and mills.
“This project will help develop biomass energy clusters in our rural communities that save money, support forest restoration, and create jobs,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “This project not only creates additional renewable energy opportunities, it supports forest health restoration and job creation. It’s exactly the type of cross cutting approach Oregon needs.”
Since taking office, the Governor has made getting Oregonians back to work a top priority. The Governor's draft Energy Action Plan emphasizes the importance of energy to Oregon’s economy. Saving Oregon’s communities money and focusing the energy dollars they do spend on local sources supports Governor Kitzhaber’s energy goals.
“The Oregon Department of Energy is proud to help communities meet their needs locally,” said Bob Repine, acting ODOE director. “This biomass strategy provides a practical roadmap to real results.”
The $168,000 USFS grant will support the collaborative efforts of Oregon Department of Energy, Sustainable Northwest, the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Forestry, Business Oregon and other stakeholders. In selecting Oregon as the first state to pilot this effort, the Forest Service acknowledged Oregon’s leadership on forest health and biomass energy issues.
“The strong partnership between the Forest Service and the state of Oregon make this a unique opportunity to pursue new approaches to developing renewable energy projects that can support our forest restoration activities,” said Kent Connaughton, Regional Forester for the U.S. Forest Service’s Northwest region.
“We look forward to further supporting Oregon’s biomass energy goals as well as the BLM’s goals for healthy forests and communities,” said Mike Mottice, Acting State Director for the BLM in Oregon and Washington. “We recently invested in a biomass facility at the BLM’s Wildwood Recreation Site near Mt. Hood. We hope to see more statewide biomass thermal projects in the near term.”
The pilot project will evaluate market opportunities to develop local biomass business clusters in support of forest restoration activities. Once promising projects are identified, the state will grant approximately $168,000 for project development activities including feasibility studies, design, and preparation for financing and construction.
About the Department of Energy: The Oregon Department of Energy provides tax credits, grants, loans, technical assistance and energy information for home owners, businesses, manufacturers, farms, ranches, schools and governments.