BTEC to host webinar on federal biomass energy policy

By Rona Johnson | January 19, 2011

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council is holding a webinar to discuss the national political environment for advancing biomass thermal energy policies in the U.S. The free webinar is titled Biomass Energy—A Policy Outlook: Programs, Legislation and the New Congress and will be held Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. ET.

Presenting during the webinar are Jesse Dickerman, director of industry and government relations for Zilkha Biomass Energy, Steve Marshall, assistant director of Cooperative Forestry, U.S. Forest Service and a biomass government affairs specialist who is yet to be named. Joseph Seymour, BTEC program coordinator for policy and government affairs, will moderate the panel.

This is the third in a series of webinars the BTEC is conducting to advance education and outreach on biomass thermal energy. The webinars and other educational projects are made possible by a grant from the USDA Forest Service’s Wood Education and Resource Center.

BTEC Executive Director Kyle Gibeault said this webinar is a little different than the previous webinars. “With this webinar we have a little more specific audience than some of the others,” he said. “When we started the series our intended audience, for just generally the whole series, was a few different segments, including potential adopters of biomass thermal technologies, people like facilities managers or even homeowners or people who could possibly make the jump to this technology.”

Gibeault said this next webinar is geared more for people already in the industry as well as those who are looking to get into the business. “I think there are two main audiences, the first would be people who already have facilities or biomass thermal equipment and want to learn more about the policy outlook this year and how it may affect their businesses,” he said. “The second is probably people who are interested in getting involved in this industry but aren’t that clear on what the political and regulatory climate is for investment and getting started.”

The Biomass Energy—A Policy Outlook: Programs, Legislation and the New Congress webinar will include a brief biomass energy overview, review of recently proposed biomass programs such as USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Community Woody Energy Program and Rural Energy for America Program, discussion about the potential for thermal energy tax incentives in 2011 and a question and answer session.

The live webinars have been attracting about 200 participants, and although they are also offered on the BTEC’s website Gibeault has no way to track how many times they are viewed online. “But I think there’s probably an additional secondary audience who is watching them after the fact.”

The BTEC plans to offer more webinars even after the grant money runs out, but they are trying to find a way to continue to offer them free of charge. “We would like to continue to offer that because once you start charging people your audience becomes very different and it’s just folks who are already invested in the industry and we want people who are curious about it to get on as well.”

To read more about the webinar and to register, go to