Switchgrass Project Approved

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee approved $1 million for the Chariton Valley Switchgrass Project. Both the House and Senate must approve the measure before it becomes law.

“I’ve been proud to work with the Chariton Valley RC&D to promote Iowa’s native switch grass as a source for producing electricity,” said Harkin. “I strongly believe that switch grass can be to electric power what ethanol is to gasoline.”

Switchgrass crop requires less tillage, less fertilizer, and less insecticide and herbicide than traditional row crops. It also reduces dependence on fossil fuels. By mixing switchgrass with existing coal at power plants, the “energy crop” can be used to help generate 35 megawatts of electrical power — enough to light some 40,000 homes.

This funding will be used to complete installations to the Ottumwa Generating Station that will allow the cofiring of 12.5 tons per hour of biomass, fund work with cooperating farmers to develop biomass supply for future cofire activities, and conduct agronomic, environmental, and market development activities to support biomass production and use.

The bill now goes to the House and Senate for final passage.