KEDA assembles biomass working group

By Lisa Gibson
Posted March 31, 2010, at 10:22 a.m. CST

In a proactive effort fueled by increasing nationwide interest in biomass energy, the Koochiching Economic Development Authority board in Koochiching County, Minn., is assembling a biomass working group to gain a thorough understanding of the industry's important elements.

The team of between six and nine people will include foresters, loggers, the land management sector and representatives from the county's largest employer and user of timber: the Boise Cascade Inc. paper mill. "We want to get a good cross-section of people who understand what's out there and how it's used," said KEDA director Paul Nevanen. "We'd like to assemble a team that can put a business plan together for projects around here." The group will be the contact for any parties interested in developing projects in Koochiching County.

The county has no biomass projects so far, but Nevanen says it's just a matter of time. "People are looking in that direction and doing some planning around it," he said. "We'd like to have a clear understanding of how we can capitalize on that."

The team will study supply chain logistics, as well as resources for project investors and one of the main goals is to establish a planning document. "I don't know yet what that will look like or what it will morph into," Nevanen said.

The first meeting will be in April, followed by regular quarterly meetings. While members will not rule out any viable source, woody biomass will be the main focus. "That is the resource we are blessed with," Nevanen said, adding that the group will be sensitive to Boise and its pricing.

"It's important to compile this team, so when opportunities arise, we've done our homework," he said.