May 2018 Newsletter

Wood Heat Stakeholders Gather, Talk Opportunities and Urgency at Heating the Midwest
Heating the Midwest , an annual conversation and roundtable about growing the role of wood heat in the Upper Midwest was held May 1-3, 2018 at the Black Bear Convention Center in Carlton, Minnesota.
This year’s conversation carried an increased sense of urgency with the news of the closure of three large biomass power plants in Minnesota on everyone’s minds. Benson Power in western Minnesota and Laurentian Energy Authority’s two plants located in Hibbing and Virginia will be shutdown, and with their closure the demand for nearly 500,000 green tons of woody biomass in the area will disappear.
Set against that backdrop, this year’s Heating the Midwest agenda worked to highlight wood biomass thermal deployments that work despite an economic environment of historically low fossil fuel prices while also looking toward projects with a realistic chance at gaining traction and stepping into the void created by the Benson and Laurentian Energy closures.
“The forest products industry is absolutely vital to the rural economies of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan,” said Brian Brashaw, a longtime Heating the Midwest steering committee member and Program Manager for the USDA Forest Products Laboratory. “A healthy forest products sector adds value to woody biomass of all sorts and when demand for lower value material goes away, it reverberates throughout the supply chain. Healthy forests and industry need markets for all harvest products.”
Read the full article by Tim Portz- Forge Content, here.

In This Newsletter:

  • House Committee Passes 2018 Farm Bill
  • EPA: Biomass From Managed Forests is Carbon Neutral
  • Benefits of Wood Heating Discussed at Senate Hearing
  • Duluth Steam Plant to Burn Biofuel
  • EIA: 790,000 tons of Densified Biomass Fuel Sold in December
  • 2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge
  • Webinar: An Update on forest management and loggers in MN
  • Webinar
  • Red Cedar Workshop
  • Job Opportunity
  • National Funding Opportunities
  • Minnesota Funding Opportunities
  • LinkedIn
  • Free Publications
  • Ideas for SWET
  • Become an Action Team Volunteer
  • Call for news

House Committee Passes 2018 Farm Bill

On April 18, the House Agriculture Committee held a markup hearing and passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill, officially titled the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, or H.R. 2. The vote was along party lines, with committee republicans voting in favor of the bill and committee democrats voting in opposition. The bill will now be considered by the House.
Read the full story here .

EPA: Biomass from Managed Forests is Carbon Neutral

On April 23, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that in future regulatory actions biomass from managed forests will be treated as carbon neutral when used for energy production at stationary sources. The agency is also assessing options for incorporating non-forest biomass as carbon neutral into future actions.
“Today’s announcement grants America’s foresters much-needed certainty and clarity with respect to the carbon neutrality of forest biomass,” Pruitt said. “Managed forests improve air and water quality, while creating valuable jobs and thousands of products that improve our daily lives. This is environmental stewardship in action.”
Read the full story here .

Benefits of Wood Heating Discussed at Senate Hearing

Wood energy was among the topics discussed during an April 19 hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that examined rural energy challenges and opportunities.
Robert Venables, executive director of Southeast Conference, discussed the use of wood heating in Alaska during his testimony.
Read the full story here .

Duluth Steam Plant to Burn Biofuel

Duluth’s steam plant will be swapping out coal and natural gas for biofuel in the near future.
Earlier this week, the Duluth City Council authorized Duluth Energy Systems to enter into a five-year agreement with an Ottawa, Ontario-based company that produces a type of fuel oil it makes from wood waste.
Lee Torrens, president of Ensyn Fuels, said Duluth Energy Systems is his firm’s first Minnesota customer, but he’s optimistic it won’t be the last. Initially, the fuel burned in Duluth will be produced at a plant in Renfrew, Ontario. However, Torrens said he hopes to eventually open a production facility in Minnesota, perhaps on the Iron Range or in Duluth, to serve a growing stateside market.
Read the full story here .

EIA: 790,000 Tons of Densified Biomass Fuel Sold in December

On March 20, the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced U.S. manufacturers of densified biomass fuel reported producing 650,000 tons of product and selling 790,000 tons in December.
The data was released as part of the March edition of the EIA’s Monthly Densified Biomass Fuel Report, which includes data from December. The EIA collected data from 87 operating manufacturers of densified biomass fuel to complete the report. The report does not include data from facilities with capacities of less than 10,000 tons per year. Those smaller facilities report data annually rather than monthly.
Read the full story here .

2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge

Fourth Wood Stove Competition to focus on automation and electricity generation
The Alliance for Green Heat is planning the fourth Wood Stove Design Challenge on the National Mall in Washington, DC from November 9 – 14, 2018.
The 2018 event will be free and open to the public and includes rigorous testing of the next generation of technology that can make wood stoves consistently cleaner, more efficient, easier to use and, like solar energy, a renewable source of electricity.
Read the full story here .

Webinar: An update on forest management and loggers in Minnesota

Forest management practices change over time in response to factors such as science, social and political constraints, markets, and logging businesses. This webinar will present key information for natural resource managers, logging business owners and policy makers about the current application of silvicultural practices and the status of the logging sector in Minnesota. The webinar will highlight findings from recently completed surveys and discuss some of the changes which have occurred in our management over time.
Watch the webinar here .

Job Opportunity: Forester – Itasca County

Here is a job listing for a District Forester in Itasca County.

National Funding Opportunities

USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program  (REAP) grant can cover 25% of project costs and a project can begin after an application has been submitted. Applications are due April 1, 2018 for projects of any size. REAP grants are competitive (1 in 4 applicants awarded).
USDA’s Guaranteed Loan  provides up to 75% of project costs and is not competitive.
DOE: No-cost technical assistance. The DOE Office of Indian Energy provides federally recognized Indian tribes with technical assistance to advance tribal energy projects at no cost.

Minnesota Funding Opportunities

MDA Biomass Thermal Energy Incentive Program . This is a production-based incentive and pays out based on heat generated by mostly Minnesota-sourced biomass.
MDA’s Livestock Investment Grant  covers 10% of a project’s eligible costs. The application period is September through December.
Additional details available  here .
MDA AGRI Value Added Grant Program . This program supports Minnesota agricultural producers and processors to increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products by expanding markets. Grants are for equipment purchases or physical improvements and are intended to support businesses. Additional details available at:
MDA AGRI Value Added Feasibility Grant Program The Minnesota Department ofAgriculture (MDA) will reimburse up to 50% of the costs, with a maximum award of $35,000, for an independent third party consultant to conduct a feasibility study of your agricultural value-added business venture. Any Minnesota resident or business can apply to receive funding to do a feasibility study for a new business or expansion/diversification of an existing business that will add value to a Minnesota agricultural commodity or product. This includes but is not limited to farmers/farmer networks, agricultural cooperatives, and agricultural businesses.

HTM has joined LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter

Heating the Midwest Incorporated has created a LinkedIn page and also a Facebook page. Follow the page to stay up to date with what we’re working on! Also follow us on Twitter.
Click here to follow us on LinkedIn
Click here to follow us on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter @HTM_BiomassHeat

Free Publications

Biomass Magazine and Pellet Mill Magazine are free to subscribers in the USA. Here’s link to sign up and there is also free e-newsletters, free webinars and more:
BTEC Newsletter : If you are interested in receiving the Biomass Thermal Energy Council’s weekly biomass newsletter and other news releases, you are encouraged to sign-up at:

Have Biomass Project Ideas for SWET?

Michigan Statewide Wood Energy Team
Contact: Ray Miller-
Wisconsin Statewide Wood Energy Team
Contact: Olivia Shanahan – PSC –

Heating the Midwest- Become an Action Team Volunteer!

If you have a specific area of interest related to biomass thermal, we welcome your participation in one or all of HTM’s three action teams-Biomass Combustion Technologies, Biomass Policy & Benefits, and Biomass Resources & Demographics. Is your time often stretched? No problem. Time committed to the HTM effort is volunteer time. Joint action team calls are held monthly via conference call, and calls are limited to one hour in respect of members’ time and busy schedules. Members may choose to volunteer more of their time individually to support Action Team specific projects as they arise.
Individuals with a passion for biomass thermal energy are being sought to lead the Biomass Resources & Demographics Action Team or the Biomass Combustion Technologies Action Team. This is a great opportunity to share your leadership skills in furthering the mission of HTM and to directly connect with the biomass industry sector and other agencies—all with a goal of growing market opportunities for biomass and specifically for biomass as a fuel for thermal heating and cooling, and combined heat and power.
The work of the action teams involves developing “boots on the ground” projects for spurring action, discussing industry challenges in each sector and how to possibly address, networking and supporting the overall goals and vision of the Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass initiative in an effort to grow demand and expand marketing opportunities in the biomass thermal sector, and create awareness of biomass thermal. Until further notice, the call schedule for the HTM Joint Action Team calls is:
  >> Meets third Tuesday of each month at 1:30 p.m. CST <<
For more detailed information on the Biomass Combustion Technologies Action Team or the Biomass Resources & Demographics Action Team, please contact Becky Philipp ( ) or via phone at (218) 280-8575; and for the Biomass Policy & Benefits Action Team, please contact Gregg Mast ( )

Call for Your Midwest Biomass Stories and Events for June Newsletter

As you’ve seen month after month; companies, governments, and communities around the Midwest are making progress on biomass heating and combined heat and power (CHP) programs and projects. If you have a story or event to contribute for next month, please submit by close of business the 3rd Wednesday of the month to . And, if you’d like to be on the list to receive upcoming newsletters, please contact Kelsey Loeffler at .