November 2017 Newsletter

During HTM’s November monthly HTM steering committee call, steering committee members reflected upon how HTM has now been advocating for biomass thermal heat for nearly 7 years. Oh, how time flies. Those of us who have been involved take great pride in seeing our efforts come alive as we have grown from a fledgling grass roots organization to a formalized 501(c)(3) non-profit entity. We have established an excellent conference for industry participants to come together to collaborate and network. We have developed “A Biomass Midwest Vision”, which calls for 15% of all thermal energy in the Midwest come from renewable energy sources by 2025, 10% of which comes from sustainably produced biomass and 5% from other renewable sources. We have also developed action teams for multiple purposes that meet regularly to help further our cause. We can truly be proud of what we have accomplished. But before we go overboard patting ourselves on the back we also asked ourselves, are we truly where we want to be, and the answer was decidedly “No”. At least within the steering committee it was agreed that we have not yet reached the critical mass that truly allows our voices to be heard. We struggle to bring in new participants to our action teams, our steering committee, and even to our executive team; to find ways to be everywhere we need to be to let our voices be heard; and to gain recognition outside of our own biomass thermal heating community. In recent years, we have endured a tough market with warm winters, low gas prices and a tough political climate. During such times, it is hard to keep the faith as wins are small and growth is slow, but those of us who are true believers know our time is coming, and we want to do everything we can to be ready and well positioned when that time comes. It is for these reasons that the HTM steering committee is now engaging in a redevelopment of HTM’s Operating Plan and calling to our entire network of over 800 stakeholders to join in our efforts, to renew our resolve and to engage collectively. If HTM is not accomplishing our goals, then we need to ask why and rethink our approach. That is what we intend to do. In the near future many of you will receive phone calls from our steering committee members to specifically ask for your involvement – Please consider engaging at a higher level by joining an action team or even the steering committee. There are many ways to plug people in as there are so many states that HTM represents. Individual efforts are needed within all of them. We will keep everyone updated on our renewed plan and strategy as it develops. In the meantime and for all of our sakes, if you have ideas and opinions as to how HTM can better serve our collective purpose, the time to express them is now. Please join our efforts.
Chris Wiberg
HTM Steering Committee

In This Newsletter:

  • 25x’25 Alliance Urges Action
  • New Papers Examine Coal, Wood Pellet Cofiring
  • FERC: US Adds Biomass Power Capacity In July
  • From Cheerios Waste to Clean Energy
  • Renewable Energy Lab Delivers Biofuels For The Future
  • Lonza, Inc. Turns Nuisance Dust Into Fuel Source
  • A Growing Advantage
  • Opportunities to Heat Poultry Barns with Wood- Webinar
  • Webinar Registration Now Open
  • Wood Waste Boiler Demo
  • Grand Rapids Area Celebrates National Bioenergy Day
  • U.S. EIA Resource Information
  • Loggers and Truckers Sue Xcel Energy Over Proposed Shutdowns of Plants
  • The Role of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
  • MN DNR’s Noteworthy Newsflashes
  • Forest Service to Award $7 million under Wood Innovations Program
  • National Funding Opportunities
  • Minnesota Funding Opportunities
  • LinkedIn
  • Free Publications
  • Ideas for SWET
  • Become an Action Team Volunteer
  • Call for news

25x’25 Alliance Urges Action to Maintain Funding for Farm Bill Energy Title Programs

The Ag Energy Coalition, 25x’25 and other ag energy partners are pressing House and Senate Appropriation Committee members to maintain funding for the Farm Bill Energy Title programs. Future funding for these important programs is far from assured and for this reason we have joined on a sign on letter urging the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriation Committee Chairs to reject proposed cuts to Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Manufacturing Assistance Program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), the Biobased Markets Program, “BioPreferred, ” and others. 25x’25 is urging its partners and friends at the national, state and regional level to join in signing the appeal letter which can be accessed through the following link:
You can also find the letter and information to sign-on here .

New Papers Examine Coal, Wood Pellet Firing at US Power Plants

Two recently published papers explore cofiring wood pellets with coal at U.S. power plants. If the U.S. wants to begin replacing coal with wood pellets at power plants, the government must provide incentives similar to the ones that solar and wind currently receive, according to University of Georgia researchers.
Read the full story here.

FERC: US Adds Biomass Power Capacity in July

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has released its Energy Infrastructure Update in July, reporting that 206 MW of biomass power capacity were installed during the first seven months of 2017, up from 50 MW during the same period of 2016.
The U.S. added three biomass units with a combined 5 MW of capacity in July.
Read the full story here.

From Cheerios waste to clean energy – spending Bioenergy Day with Koda Energy

Shakopee, MN – When you’re stumbling out of bed, and groggily pouring yourself a bowl of Cheerios – we’re guessing the furthest thing from your mind is how that cereal was made – and even further from your thoughts – what happens to the wasted oat hulls after your cereal is processed?
Well luckily, other people do think of that, like Stacy Cook, the General Manager and VP of Operations at Koda Energy, an eight-year-old bioenergy company in Shakopee that consumes more than 500 tons of biomass fuel per day. What begins as leftover oat hulls, wood chips, barley hulls, malt byproducts, beet pulp and even ground up corn cobs at the beginning of the day, is milled into a course flour before being combusted in a boiler.
Read the full story here.

Renewable Energy Lab delivers biofuels for the future

After 10 years of research, NRRI delivered solid results this fall. As in solid biofuels. By the ton.
Starting at the bench scale in 2003 and fiddling with mixture after mixture, NRRI is now able to produce solid biofuels that perform at comparable energy values to coal in fossil coal burning facilities. The biofuel emissions have no heavy metal pollutants and greatly reduced sulfur levels. As an added benefit, the biomass feedstock can be invasive plants, woody and agricultural waste, secondary wood species, and beetle-killed wood resources.
Read the full story here.

Lonza, Inc. turns nuisance dust into fuel source

NRRI helps Minnesota manufacturer turn waste wood particles to a biofuel to power their plant.
Quiet Cohasset, MN, is in the heart of a tamarack bog. And Lonza, Inc. – a supplier of pharmaceutical and biotechnology specialty ingredients – relies on tamarack wood for its products.
Read the full story here.

A Growing Advantage

Len Busch Roses in Plymouth, Minnesota, and Schaefer’s Gardens in Triangle, New York, are both family-owned, commercial greenhouses that have been growing plants and flowers for the better part of a century. While Len Busch is a much larger facility, nearly 15 acres compared to an acre and a half, the two facilities face many of the same challenges, albeit a different scale. These two facilities may utlize the use of a light deprivation tarp from such companies as to help grow their plants during the various months, disregardless of scale.
Greenhouse operations are labor and energy intensive, and for U.S. operators, those issues are exacerbated by the fact that low-cost, foreign competitors pay far less for each. With few options available to drive down labor costs, both Len Busch Roses and Schaefer’s Gardens turned their focuses to reducing heating costs, each using a biomass solution to do so.
Read the full story here.

Potential to Utilize Wood Biomass in Poultry Barns – Webinar

On Tuesday, December 5, the Minnesota State Wood Energy Team will present a webinar on the potential for using biomass to heat poultry barns. Use of wood has the potential to reduce poultry house heating costs and improve the growing environment by removing combustion products like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Burning wood chips can provide heat at energy prices comparable to propane at $0.50 – $0.65 per gallon. Further, MDA incentivizes wood energy use through its Biomass Thermal Production Incentive program, and can eliminate as much as 90% of the purchase cost of wood fuels. Systems discussed can utilize local, renewable wood biomass keeping energy dollars spent within the local economy, supporting jobs and Minnesota’s commitment to clean energy and healthy forests.
Event: Potential to Utilize Wood Biomass Heat in Poultry Barns
Type: Online Webinar Presentation
Date and time: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 10:30 am Central Standard Time (Chicago, GMT-06:00)
Duration: 1 hour
Description: Online presentation of a feasibility study looking at the opportunities to heat poultry barns with wood biomass.
Event number: 591 413 206
Event password: Turkey
Audio conference: To receive a call back, provide your phone number when you join the event, or call the number below and enter the access code.
US Toll: +1 206 596 0378
Access code: 591 413 206

Power Conditioning & Liquid Cooling for Thermoelectric Stoves Webinar

Join the Alliance for Green Heat and the Biomass Thermal Energy Council for a FREE webinar on Wednesday, December 6, at 11:00 AM!
Topic: Power Conditioning and Liquid Cooling for Thermoelectric Stoves
Power conditioning and liquid cooling are two critical design issues for thermoelectric generators on wood or pellet stoves. Our first speaker, David Nemir, will provide an overview on how to maximize power output using power conditioning, e.g., voltage buck/boost technologies. Our second speaker, Doug Crane, will discuss liquid cooling solutions for wood and pellet stove applications. This webinar is designed for teams seeking to compete in the 2018 Stove Design Challenge or anyone interested in developing a thermoelectric stove.

Come Feel The Heat! Dec. 7 Wood Waste Boiler Demo

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, a partner of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team, is inviting businesses to participate in an open house and demonstration of a boiler system fueled by low-value wood waste. The demonstration is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 7 in Urbana.
Come see for yourself how more of this under-utilized material can be put to use in place of propane and other heating fuels and at the same time reduce the need for landfilling.
Read more about the wood waste boiler demonstration and learn how to RSVP in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update by clicking here .

Grand Rapids Area Celebrates National Bioenergy Day

The Grand Rapids bioenergy day event kicked off at Lonza, Inc., in Cohasset where 25 people attended a presentation by Natural Resources Research Institute researcher Tim Haggen on work he’s done through the Minnesota State Wood Energy Team grant on using wood residues to create process heat and steam in the factory.
Read the full story here .

U.S. EIA Resource Information

Loggers and truckers sue Xcel Energy over proposed shutdowns of plants

Lawsuit says Xcel’s idea to cease using three Minnesota plants will cost 100 jobs.
A group of loggers in Minnesota is using an environmental law to sue Excel Energy about three biomass plants in the state that burn wood waste or turkey manure to produce electricity.
The Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota filed the lawsuit last week in state court to stop Xcel from buying and shutting down one plant and ending contracts with two others. The move, the group said, would eliminate 100 direct jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs.
Read the full story here.

The Role of Fish & Wildlife Agencies in Sustainable Biomass Production for Bioenergy

Fish, wildlife, and the habitats they depend on not only enrich our lives, they support our economy. Every year, outdoor recreation contributes $887 billion to the American economy and supports 7.6 million jobs – nearly 1 in 20 of all U.S. jobs. Hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-dependent recreation alone generates $93.4 billion per year. Organizations such as the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies – the collective voice of North America’s state, provincial and territorial fish and wildlife agencies – can partner with industry to ensure the sustainability of our fish and wildlife resources as we move toward the mutually beneficial contributions to society that bioenergy can provide.
Read the full story here.

MN DNR’s Noteworthy Newsflashes Fall 2017

Forest Service to award $7 million under Wood Innovations program

The U.S. Forest Service has opened a funding opportunity for projects that expand wood products and wood energy markets, especially in areas with high wildfire risk. The announcement was made on National Bioenergy Day, Oct. 18.
The grants will be provided through the Wood Innovations program, which aims to reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health while creating jobs.
Read the full story here.

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 October 31, 2017 for projects less than $80k and 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.
USDA Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) Program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of new products.Applications due January 31, 2018.
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.
MN Department of Agriculture AGRI Sustainable Agricultural Demonstration Grant Program. Objectives of this grant are to expore profitability, energy efficiency and benefits of sustainable agriculture practices and systems from production through marketing. Applications are due December 13, 2017.

HTM has joined LinkedIn and Facebook

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!
Click here to follow us on LinkedIn
Click here to follow us on Facebook.

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-
Minnesota Statewide Wood Energy Team
Contact: Kristen Bergstrand-
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, Policy & Benefits, and Biomass Resources & Demographics. Is your time often stretched? No problem. Time committed to the HTM effort is volunteer time. The teams meet 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. The work of each 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. Following is a list of the schedule for the action team calls:
Biomass Combustion Technologies Action Team
Meets first Tuesday of each month at 9:00 a.m. CST
Biomass Policy & Benefits Action Team
Meets second Tuesday of each month at 9:00 a.m. CST
Biomass Resources & Demographics Action Team
Meets third Monday of each month at 10:00 a.m. CST
For more detailed information on the Biomass Combustion Technologies Action Team, please contact Andrew Murray (; for the Biomass Policy & Benefits Action Team, please contact Gregg Mast (; and for details pertaining to the Biomass Resources & Demographics Action Team, please contact Becky Philipp at or via phone at (218) 280-8575.

Call for Your Midwest Biomass Stories and Events for January 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