Harkin Announces Additional Funding for Chariton Valley Switchgrass Project

News index...

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that $500,000 was included in the FY 2008 Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill to continue the Chariton Valley Switchgrass Project. The bill is expected to be approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. It will then need to be approved by both the House and Senate before it becomes law.

“I am pleased that funds have been approved to continue showing that Iowa’s native switchgrass is a viable source for producing electricity,” said Harkin. “I strongly believe that switchgrass 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 help generate 35 megawatts of electrical power — enough to light 40,000 homes.

The Chariton Valley Switchgrass Project aims to develop the potential for commercial biomass energy generation in Southern Iowa. This project has recently completed a long-term test burn to determine the potential effects on the boilers. Further funding is needed to perform analysis and complete project closeout documentation. Over the past several years, Harkin has secured more than $17 million in federal funding for the project.