See your state's program for financial assistance opportunities.
Woody Biomass Utilization Grant Program of USFS provides funding to further planning and design of biomass energy facilities.
here to view financing
the FFS&B program beginnings in 2003, we continue to expand our knowledge
and experience and we have become part of an ever-growing network of skilled
and knowledgeable partners in woody biomass energy. Among them are natural resource managers and
foresters, fuel suppliers, economic development agencies, energy service
companies, architects, engineers, contractors, technical consultants,
environmental quality departments, boiler manufacturers, boiler operators,
facility managers, school boards, communities, as well as energy and forest
policy experts at regional and national levels.
It is with the collective knowledge, expertise and collaboration of
these diverse partners that we continue to strive to make woody biomass energy
work for communities and forests.
back to top
biomass is a renewable and sustainable fuel source that provides solutions to
ensure the viability of energy supply, the environment, and economic systems at
local, national, and global scales.
independence and security
the pendulum of volatile fossil fuel costs
renewable, and sustainable fuel source
and stabilize fuel costs for facilities
in local fuel economies
net greenhouse gas emissions
fire hazard and risks to communities, watersheds and habitats
air pollution from open burning
use of otherwise wasted product
usable wood waste from landfills
Program History back to top
The Fuels for
Schools and Beyond program is a partnership between the USDA Forest Service’s
State & Private Forestry Division, participating state coordinators, and the Bitter Root Resource
Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area, Inc., to promote and facilitate
the use of forest biomass waste for heating, cooling and power in public and
The Fuels for
Schools Initiative came out of directives from the National Fire Plan of 2001
which included specific grant dollars under Economic Action Programs (under
USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry) for pilot projects to
demonstrate new uses of small diameter and underutilized woody material, as
well as projects using proven technologies to use such material. The intent of
this focused funding was to develop new markets for woody material that has
historically been considered waste, so that the substantial cost of thinning
hazardous fuels, which generates little in the way of what is traditionally considered “commercial" timber, could be
partially offset by the economic value of “non-commercial" biomass.
A match is made: After the wildfires in the summer of 2000, which burned over 350,000 acres
and 70 structures in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, a resident of Darby, Montana
began to research ways in which to tie fire hazard reduction work with economic
development in the valley. He discovered that waste wood was being used to heat
a number of schools in the northeastern U.S., and approached community leaders
with the idea of using slash (tree limbs, tops and branches) from hazardous
fuels reduction projects for heat in Darby’s schools. With the aid of a grant
from the Economic Action Program and assistance from the Bitter Root RC&D,
USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory and the Biomass Energy Resource
Center, a biomass boiler system was planned, designed and installed at Darby
and began heating their three schools in the fall of 2003.
The program is born: Through this process, State & Private Forestry personnel in the
Northern and Intermountain Regions of the USDA Forest Service decided to focus
their Economic Action Program funding on the Fuels for Schools Initiative. They announced this strategy in June of 2004
to expand the concept of biomass heat using fuels reduction waste to other
schools throughout the Northern and Intermountain Regions.
Our Strategy back to top
The strategy of
the FFS Initiative entails a three phase process. The first phase involved establishing a
demonstration project in each of the region’s states. Phase two involved expansion of the concept
and facilitating the installation of additional biomass boilers. There are currently currently over 25 small community-scale biomass boilers
operating throughout the western states. While
continuing to provide support to projects, the program is now in its
third phase of transitioning out of the role as primary funder
and seeking to promote the “wood to energy" concept to the private sector.
strong role in technical assistance, the Fuels for Schools and Beyond partners and staff provide a great resource for
implementing community biomass projects.
Our assistance includes helping those in the private and public sectors
through knowledge sharing, information dissemination, identifying potential
financing opportunities, supply assessment, and overall support and assistance
as needed. We continue to work in
collaboration with all of our partners on improving efficiencies of supply
infrastructure, advancing local and national policies in biomass utilization,
and ensuring the viability of the nation’s forests and communities.
Fuels for Schools Business Outlook, Jan. 2004