Commerce awards $483K for wood energy projects

  • November 5, 2019

Competitive process identifies four proposed projects emphasizing use of woody biomass from forestry management activities and wood products manufacturing

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced $482,768 in grants from the Forest Products Financial Assistance Program to four proposed projects that provide heat, power, engineered fuel products and/or significant energy efficiency improvements. The program emphasizes projects that use woody biomass from forestry management activities and wood products manufacturing.

All grants must be matched at least dollar-for-dollar with other sources of non-federal funding.

Darrington Wood Innovation Center (Darrington): $160,886 to support design of a cutting-edge Wood Innovation Center. The first development phase will consist of infrastructure and three buildings hosting a mass timber plant, a modular fabrication facility using cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels produced at the plant and a small European-grade re-manufacturing sawmill facility.

The Lands Council (Spokane): $25,000 for conversion of residual woody debris to biochar, promoting an economically viable approach to forest health enhancement and carbon sequestration, eliminating costly material transport and associated emissions, and simplifying logistics through onsite production. (Biochar, which looks like common barbeque charcoal and is often used as a soil amendment, is produced through a special process that reduces contamination and safely stores carbon to potentially help mitigate climate change.)

San Juan Islands Conservation District (Friday Harbor): $181,882 to develop appropriate energy and biochar technologies to process woody biomass at different distances from town centers. This proposal includes a technology assessment, site analysis and conceptual design of an advanced wood energy microgrid gasifier system to generate heat and power for community facilities on Orcas Island.

Wind River Biomass (Stabler): $115,000 to design, procure and test an efficient system for sorting, gathering and transporting woody biomass – primarily harvest slash – based on a system common to Scandinavian countries.

All of these competitive grant awards are conditional upon execution of final project agreements and performance-based contracts with Commerce. The projects, selected from among eight applicants requesting a total of $801,807, represent a wide geographical range of communities across the state.

The Forest Products Financial Assistance grant program was established in 2014 with funds provided by the U.S. Forest Service as a result of loan repayments made to the former Old Growth Revolving Loan Fund. It provides funding for business development and planning that can be difficult for startups and new enterprises to secure. The community impact of this program includes potential revitalization of timber-dependent communities, with a goal of building value in the removal of excess material from forests to help reduce fire hazards and improve overall forest health.

Commerce coordinated closely with bioenergy researchers and developers, forest land owners and other forest industry organizations to design this grant program. Visit the Forest Products Financial Assistance Program webpage to learn more.

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Contact: Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, (206) 256-6106

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