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Biomass energy project gets fuel

The Olympic Peninsula is rich with wood waste.

Presently, the waste from timber harvest is often slag burned in open fields and waste from mills is tossed out. A Seattle firm, Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development or SEED, wants to burn that wood in a clean way to make electricity, creating a sustainable energy resource that is coupled with the ongoing forestry practices and timber mill operations in the area.

“The Olympic Peninsula has some of the richest forest resources in the country and communities like Clallam have the potential to develop some really successful and innovative wood-based renewable energy programs,” said Northwest SEED executive director Jennifer Grove. “This program will build on that potential and give local businesses and citizens the tools to make the most efficient use of their area’s unique resources.”

With funding from the state Department of Ecology, SEED will hold workshops this summer to bring together stakeholders, create partnerships, explore options and provide training and technical assistance in utilizing wood waste to enhance the economy.

“We’re looking at wood waste, whether that means mill waste, forest cuttings or other wood resources all depends on what types of partnerships and cooperation we can find in those areas,” SEED spokeswoman Leslie Moynihan said. “We aren’t focusing on any type in particular right now but rather looking to build on what other organizations have already studied.”

The Clallam Economic Development Council and the Olympic Natural Resources Center researched the option and Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, has been rallying legislators to back a bill that would financially support a wood-to-energy project on the peninsula.

Moynihan said once a business model is set up with leaders in government, forestry, tribes, mills and the business community all at the table, things can move forward in a cooperative, a limited liability company or some other ownership model.

“We want to promote a discussion initially with the first meeting, then create a plan, cover financing options and move forward with technical assistance when needed,” Moynihan said. “The focus is keeping the benefits from Clallam wood energy in Clallam County.”

The time, date and location of the meeting are yet to be determined but will be listed in the Gazette when SEED makes the information available.



Box: For more information on Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development and its workshop to promote new partnerships to implement a biomass energy project, visit www.nwseed.org or contact project manager Leslie Moynihan at 206-267-2215.



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