Penn. forms first biomass organization

By Luke Geiver | May 31, 2012

Pennsylvania has a new organization advocating for all things biomass. The Pennsylvania Biomass Energy Association was recently formed after the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund provided the biomass advocacy group with a grant. 

PBEA is the state’s first biomass organization working to promote biomass power and thermal applications. Jay Clark, president of PBEA and vice president of AFS Energy Systems, a biomass solutions and services provider, said a group of companies and individuals involved in the state’s biomass industry had been discussing forming a group for some time. Through the grant, PBEA will now document the status of the industry in the state, noting growth areas while providing education outreach.

Although the state has a diverse mix of sustainable biomass resources, Clark said challenges will need to be overcome, including educating end-users, developers and suppliers. “Pennsylvania ranks second in the nation in on-farm methane digesters and has more than a dozen landfill gas facilities operating,” he said. Over the past ten years, dozens of successful community-scale power and thermal projects have been deployed, including heating at regional health centers and school district facilities, and PBEA hopes to continue helping all of them, Clark said. 

PBEA plans to focus on maintaining state programs that support biomass use, but also to educate those involved in decision making, advocating for more support. Penn State University’s Biomass Energy Center recently signed on as a founding member, and other members of the organization include Harman Home Heating, Sustainable Energy Fund, Wilson Engineering, Ernst Conservation Seeds, Energex and EnergyWorks BioPower. 

“This broad base of membership should ensure that all phases of the biomass energy economy participate, support and help educate the public on the benefits of biomass for these purposes,” Clark said. 

The Pennsylvania Energy Resources Group will manage day-to-day operations for PBEA. John Nikoloff, partner at ERG, and his team have worked with biomass energy companies for five years through project development and financing, and he said each company has voiced the need for a single state-wide industry voice. “We are very pleased to have played a role in the association’s inception and we’re excited to be helping biomass-related firms remain a key segment of Pennsylvania’s energy future,” Nikoloff said.  

For more on PBEA, visit: