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First Wisconsin Bioenergy Crop Pilot Project Announced
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 06/11/2008

The State of Wisconsin is teaming up with the private sector to demonstrate how to produce and process biomass as a substitute for coal. On Tuesday, the Office of Energy Independence announced it will partner with the Mt. Horeb-based Premier Farm Supply Cooperative in the project by providing a $25,000 grant to accomplish the objective.

"Wisconsin has an estimated 14.76 million tons of biomass, which is is the heat value of 8.12 million metric tons of coal," says OEI Director Judy Ziewacz. "With coal at $30 per ton, we would generate $244 million in value-added income to rural landowners if we aggregate biomass and substitute it for coal."

Wisconsin utilities import about 26,000,000 tons of coal per year. By partnering with Premier Cooperative, the state is exploring solutions to these road blocks while relying on the Cooperative's historic aggregation strength. The partnership also helps rural landowners understand how to capitalize on the emerging market for bioenergy crops like grasses and other woody biomass.

"Our state's agriculture cooperatives have decades of experience working with farmers to produce crops and to get them to markets," Ziewacz says. "We move over 26 billion pounds of milk in this state from farm to market through our dairy cooperatives, and we expect our biomass resources to present a similar opportunity."

OEI expects the biomass market to grow significantly over the next twenty years. One acre of biomass can produce electricity for one home per year.

The Office of Energy Independence was created by to advance renewable and alternative energy policy, lead Wisconsin's bio-based industry, and serve businesses and citizens interested in renewable energy.

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