USDA Approves Four CRP Biomass Pilot Projects

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WASHINGTON, March 21, 2001 The U.S. Department of
Agriculture today said that four biomass pilot projects were
approved for Iowa, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania.

In Iowa, the Chariton Valley Biomass Project is a
cooperative effort to develop warm and cool season grasses
(such as switchgrass) as a source of renewable energy.
Project partners, agricultural and energy interests, propose
to cofire this biomass with coal to generate a sustained
supply of 35 megawatts of biomass-derived electric power at
Alliant Energy's Ottumwa Generating Station. The grass is
grown on CRP acres in southern Iowa.

The Minnesota pilot project will allow hybrid poplar
trees to be grown on CRP acreage in the Minnesota River
Watershed. The biomass produced from the trees will be used
to produce energy in a 50 megawatt Whole Tree Energy power
plant in St. Peter, Minnesota. This pilot project will pay
farmers to enter into this new agricultural market.

In New York, willow biomass crops and switchgrass will
be grown on CRP acreage in the central and western part of
the state. The primary markets for the willow biomass are
two coal burning power plants and a small university central
heating facility. Beyond providing renewable energy, the
willow is a new crop for local farmers and will reduce soil
erosion and improve water and air quality.

The Pennsylvania Switchgrass Energy and Conservation
Project will produce switchgrass on CRP land for sale to a
local cooperative's coal-fired fluid-bed combustors. These
combustors are ideal for burning alternative fuels.

USDA sought proposals in a Federal Register notice
published October 20, 2000. These four projects were
approved from seven proposals reviewed by State Farm Service
Agency Committees, in consultation with the Natural
Resources Conservation Service and State Technical
Committees. Recommendations were then submitted for review
by an interagency group of officials from FSA, NRCS, the
Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Forest Service.
Additional information is being sought on the other three
proposals and, subject to a statutory limit of six pilot
projects, those proposals may be approved at a later date.

For additional information on these CRP Biomass Pilot
Projects, contact Beverly Preston at (202) 720-9563 or E-
mail at beverly_preston@wdc.fsa.usda.gov

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