Conference Program

Day 1: Tuesday, May 1, 2018

  • FIELD TOUR: (8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
    • University of Minnesota Cloquet Forestry Center
    • Fond du Lac Band biomass heating system
    • Savanna Pallet – wood residue utilization
    • Northeast Regional Corrections Center biomass boiler
    • Nordic Firewood Inc.
    • Optional FDL 1 MW Solar Tour
    • Optional FDL Pellet Boiler
  • Registration and Vendor Reception (5:00 – 6:30 p.m.)

Day 2: Wednesday, May 2, 2018 – Vendor Expo Open (7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.)

  • Welcome and Introductions  (8:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.)
    • Chuck Gagner, President, Heating the Midwest & President, Northwest Manufacturing, Inc.
    • Kevin Dupuis Sr., Chairman, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Message and Messenger: Rethinking How Biomass Thermal Takes Itself to Market  (8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.)

In an environment of inflated fossil fuel prices, the argument for biomass is straightforward; more Btus at lower costs. However, in prolonged periods of fuel price parity or moderate savings the argument becomes more difficult. This panel will examine if other aspects of the biomass heating value proposition are being properly leveraged and amplified to attract and win new customers.

  • Moderator – Brian Brashaw, Program Manager, U.S. Forest Service
  • Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute
  • Adam Sherman, Senior Consultant, Biomass Energy Resource Center
  • Networking Break  (10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.)
  • How Biomass Thermal Continues to Escape the Attention of Clean Energy Champions in the Upper Midwest (10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.)

While there is broad public support for renewable forms of energy generally, an examination of support for biomass thermal energy specifically leaves many industry participants unimpressed. What is behind this disparity and what are its consequences? Finally, how biomass thermal energy advocates reinsert our sector into the ongoing public policy discussion about the role renewables will play in the region in the future?  

  • Moderator – Gregg Mast, Executive Director, Clean Energy Economy Minnesota
  • Anna Dirkswager, Program Manager, Great Plains Institute
  • Fritz Ebinger, Rural Energy Development Program Manager, University of Minnesota – Clean Energy Resource Team
  • Networking Lunch  (12:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.)
  • The Effort to Push Biomass Heat into New Applications Underway in the Upper Midwest (1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.)

Marketplace penetration for biomass heating is gained installation by installation. The role that a ‘first of its kind’ biomass heating installation can play in proving that biomass can work to achieve operational goals for a new kind of facility cannot be overstated. This panel will look at specific instances where biomass thermal solutions are working to establish themselves as viable options to achieve either process or program outcomes.

  • Moderator – Alan Doering, AURI
  • Bill Koenig, Viking Company
  • Mikey Weitekamp, Senior Project Manager, Environmental Initiative
  • T.J. Morice, TNT Ventures, LLC & Verita Energy
  • Networking Break  (3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
  • The Perfect Fit: Examining Biomass Thermal Projects that Work in Spite of Challenging Market Conditions (3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.)

Despite prolonged periods of low and often ultra-low fossil fuel prices, biomass heating continues to find traction in certain applications because of the ingenuity of the entire system design. This panel will feature projects that through thoughtful design and deployment are adding real value to the operations of both their thermal host and upstream feedstock source.

  • Moderator – Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute
  • Mike Beggs, President, Graphic Wood Technologies
  • Terry Nanti, General Manager, Duluth Energy Systems
  • Lee Torrens, Executive Vice President & President of Ensyn Fuels Inc.
  • Networking Reception  (5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.)

Day 3: Thursday, May 3, 2018- Vendor Expo Open (7:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.) 

  • Feast or Famine: Assessing the Current Inventory of Available Biomass Inventories in the Upper Midwest (10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)
  • When biomass installations come online or are taken off line, the impact on the availability and movement of feedstock ripples throughout the region. This panel discussion will feature some of the most knowledgeable professionals in the region when it comes to feedstock inventories, their availability trajectories and the challenges that both over and undersupply of materials means not just for them, but every constituent in the biomass supply chain.
    • Moderator: Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute
    • Mike Marsollek, Vice President of Supply Chain, Koda Energy
    • Jeff Guillemette, Biomass Fuel Manager, Environmental Wood Supply
    • David Neumann, Utilization & Marketing Specialist, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Roll Call: Ensuring that Everyone who Benefits from a Strong Biomass Thermal Energy Industry is on the Team (8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.)

With an eye on assessing and reestablishing a broad and active foundation of support, this panel will bring together non-industry stakeholders who benefit from a strong biomass heating sector. Populated with economic development professionals and forest products sector participants, this discussion will ask frank questions about the synergies that exist between our varied constituencies and the strategies we need to deploy to make those relationships more meaningful and beneficial.

  • Moderator – Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute
  • Tamara Lowney, Senior Business Developer, Apex
  • Scott Dane, Executive Director, Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota
  • Conference Adjourns (12:00 p.m.)