September 2017 Newsletter




Did you know that National Bioenergy Day is on Wednesday, October 18, 2017? This National event highlights the important benefits of bioenergy to electric power generation, thermal heat and other uses. It also helps make a strategic connection to efficient use of biomass residues from other wood products, along with a connection to land management. Studies have shown that 75 percent or more of bioenergy dollars stay within the local economy. Visit the National Bioenergy Day website for an up-to-date list of events, and also see a terrific video that shows highly successful bioenergy projects in Montana.
Two Minnesota events are scheduled with Minnesota Power and with Koda Energy. In Grand Rapids, the event features tours and presentations at Lonza, Inc., Minnesota Power’s Rapids Energy Center, and the Itasca Community College wood biomass boiler. More information and registration is available here. Koda Energy will be sponsoring a tour of their facility and a cookout lunch for guests. The Koda event will be held from 11 AM – 1 PM. More information is available here.
We hope you will join us in celebrating this great day for biomass!
HTM Steering Committee

In This Newsletter:

  • Midwest Senators Push Farm Bill Energy Program Legislation
  • Bioenergy Day 2017 Video
  • Video blogs highlight biomass resources
  • Biomass carbon-neutral in federal spending bill
  • Biomass Isn’t Just for Electricty
  • Study Benchmarks Biomass Carbon to Natural Gas
  • FutureMetrics has a New White Paper
  • CERTs issues RFP for 2018 Seed Grants
  • BTEC Update
  • National Funding Opportunities
  • Minnesota Funding Opportunities
  • National Forest Products Week
  • LinkedIn
  • Free Publications
  • Ideas for SWET
  • Become an Action Team Volunteer
  • Call for news

Midwest Senators Push Farm Bill Energy Program Legislation

Sens. Al Franken (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) say they aim to build on the 2014 Farm Bill by increasing investments in popular energy initiatives, such as the Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP).
The measure would reauthorize the energy programs included in Title IX of the current farm bill, and their funding through 2023.
The sponsors say the legislation will help agricultural producers and rural businesses deploy more renewable energy projects and cut energy costs. Among other provisions, the reauthorized energy section would also support advanced biofuel production, improve the market for sustainable agriculture feedstocks and help keep sugar prices stable.
The measure comes in the face of several deep funding cuts proposed to farm energy programs in fiscal 2018 spending bills pending in Congress.
Read more from the 25x’25 Alliance here.

Bioenergy Day 2017 Video

The fifth annual Bioenergy Day is October 18, 2017. Check out the 2017 Bioenergy Day Video.
More information on Bioenergy Day can be found here.

Video blogs highlight biomass resources

Michigan Biomass has launched a series of video blogs that provide basic information on the breadth and depth of biomass resources.
Biomass is as diverse as it is plentiful, and it starts closer to home than you think. The “Backyard Biomass” series shows how biomass power generators gather wood to make electricity, from sources as close as your backyard.
Visit their Youtube channel to view these and more.

Biomass carbon-neutral in federal spending bill

Biomass is a carbon-neutral energy resource and states should be encouraged to utilize those resources – so says the omnibus spending bill adopted by Congress earlier this year.
The five-month budget resolution earmarks $15 million of a U.S. Forest Service firefighting allocation “for the purpose of creating incentives for increased use of biomass from National Forest System lands.”
This provision replaces the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) – at least for this budget cycle. It provided incentives for biomass fuel providers as part of the 2014 Farm Bill. The omnibus bill effectively defunds BCP through September.
The spending bill adopted language from a Senate energy bill that failed to pass last year, which defines forest residuals as carbon neutral.

Biomass Isn’t Just for Electricity

Members of Michigan’s State Wood Energy Team, coordinated under a U.S. Department of Energy Grant through Michigan State University Extension, recently toured Bordine Nursery in Grand Blanc, which uses waste wood to heat 11 acres of greenhouses. The wood supply is mostly crates, pallets, landscape debris and other sources of urban wood.

Study benchmarks biomass carbon to natural gas

The Biomass Power Association and other forest stakeholders have released a long awaited study showing that biomass power from waste materials has net carbon benefit over natural gas.
The study was commissioned by BPA and conducted by Madhu Khanna, a member of the U.S. EPA Scientific Advisory Board and professor with the Univerity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Puneet Dwivedi of the University of Georgia.
The study was baed on a 50-megawatt stand-alone biomass plant and modeled at the landscape scale of a New England forest harvested on a 25 year rotation. It shows that natural gas based on electricity displaced by biomass from harvest residues can produce carbon savings from 115% in initial years of harvesting to about 98% by year 100.
The study is targeted at dispelling anti-biomass policies like those implemented by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where renewable energy standards effectively excluded biomass by developing oversimplified and non-comprehensive comparisons to combined cycle natural gas.
See the summary here.

FutureMetrics has a New White Paper

How a low-tech renewable solid fuel is an important component of the pathway to a more decarbonized future: Wood Pellets as a Substitute for Coal in Power Generation
This paper discusses a renewable biomass-based strategy for the power sector that is good for the environment and offers the lowest cost per avoided tonne of CO2 while providing essential baseload power to the grid. The strategy is not based on complex chemistry to produce liquid fuel for biomass. The strategy is based on well proven process for upgrading wood into a densified and durable solid fuel that is suitable for use in large utility power boilers that are based on pulverized coal fuel systems.
This latest white paper, other papers, and dashboards can be downloaded from theFutureMetrics website.

CERTs issues RFP for 2018 Seed Grants

The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for its 2018 round of seed grants. The Seed Grants are designed to provide limited financial assistance for community based energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects in Minnesota. Project funding can support technical assistance services (i.e., labor costs only, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer, or student labor) for projects in all seven Minnesota CERTs regions: Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and West Central.
Learn more here.

BTEC Update

The Department of Natural Resources, Canada Joins BTEC Efforts on Boiler Efficiency Protocol Testing
BTEC is pleased to announce that the Department of Natural Resources of Canada (CanmetENERGY) is now a full partner in efforts to develop a comprehensive and recognized efficiency standard for wood-fired boilers in North America.
Read full update 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

AGRI Value Added Grants now available
$1 million available to increase sales of agricultural products
St. Paul, MN – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) anticipates awarding up to $1 million through the competitive Value Added Grant Program. Funding for the grants was established through the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Program to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries.
The Value Added Grant program seeks to increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products by diversifying markets and increasing market access and food safety of value-added products. More information can be found here.
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 CERTs 2018 Seed Grants are designed to provide limited financial assistance for community-based energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects in Minnesota.Applications are due October 20, 2017.
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.

National Forest Products Week

National Forest Products Week is October 16-20, 2017.
During National Forest Products Week, the value of America’s forests and the products they provide is celebrated, while also recommitting to sustainably managing the splendid natural resources to meet the Nation’s needs, both now and in the future. Expanding wood products markets reduces forest restoration costs and creates an alternative to burning or land filling the leftover woody material. A diversified wood products industry enhances resiliency of our ecosystems, sequesters carbon, and creates jobs in rural communities. Join us in celebrating National Forest Products Week!

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 October 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 2nd Wednesday of the month to And, if you’d like to be on the list to receive upcoming newsletters, please contact Kelsey Loeffler at