Green Horizons Newsletter - AgEBB

Green Horizons

Volume 13, Number 4
Fall 2009

Wood Energy Update: MDC Fuels for Schools Program
John Tuttle, Missouri Department of Conservation

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service, is offering grants of almost $1 million each to public schools in select Missouri counties for six “Fuels for Schools” projects. The grants are being funded through The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Fuels for Schools will assist public schools in heavily forested areas of southern Missouri to install and operate boiler systems that use woody biomass from local public and private forest land to heat and/or cool their facilities. This technology should help reduce dependence on fossil fuels, reduce energy costs for schools, create or retain local jobs and support healthy forests and the state’s forest industry.

The Fuels for Schools projects will help create a stronger market for woody material historically considered waste, such as unhealthy or small-diameter trees and wood debris left from logging. These forest products currently have little or no commercial value; the Fuels for Schools projects can provide micro-markets for wood chips produced from them.

The projects also will support forest health, a key part of the Department’s mission, by making it economical to thin overcrowded forest stands and remove diseased and insectinfested trees.

Successful projects also will serve as examples to other schools, businesses and government agencies throughout Missouri that may be interested in wood-fueled energy systems.

Similar efforts in other states have proved successful. Missouri’s projects will be based on the Fuels for Schools and Beyond program. This is a partnership between the USDA Forest Service’s State & Private Forestry program, the State Foresters of Montana, North Dakota, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, and the Bitter Root Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area, Inc., to promote and facilitate the use of forest biomass waste for heating, cooling and power in public and private buildings.

According to the Fuels for Schools and Beyond Web site (, “In general, fuel cost savings for projects that have replaced natural gas boiler systems have averaged at 25% while facilities replacing fuel oil systems have enjoyed savings of 50-75%.”

Grant solicitations have been mailed to public schools in counties selected as the most heavily forested ones in the state: Barry, Bollinger, Butler, Carter, Crawford, Dent, Douglas, Howell, Iron, Madison, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Phelps, Pulaski, Reynolds, Ripley, Shannon, Stone, Taney, Texas, Washington, Wayne and Wright. Since the grants are funded through the ARRA, there is a very aggressive timeline to get the projects completed. Completed applications must be received by Oct. 23, 2009.

A multi-agency selection committee will rank grant applications. The rankings will be based on each school district’s economic needs, how dependent it is on the forest products industry, its ability to implement the project quickly, its proximity to public and private forest land and its partnerships with other public entities that could benefit from the biomass energy system.

For more information, contact John Tuttle at

LG Biomass Missouri LLC recently announced its intent to develop a 32 megawatt biomass power generation facility that will use forest and agricultural waste and by-products to create renewable electric energy. To learn more, check out the article t hat appeared in Perry County’s Republic-Monitor,

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