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Woody Biomass Technical Assistance

The Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry Woody Biomass Business Plan is primarily being implemented through a Woody Biomass Technical Support Team that was established by the WERC staff in 2009.

The Woody Biomass Technical Support Team is part of the technical assistance provided by the U.S. Forest Service through the WERC. The Team helps public and private sector facility owners evaluate and develop community-scale projects that use woody biomass for heat energy or for both heat and power throughout the eastern hardwood region served by WERC. These renewable energy projects utilize local, sustainably harvested wood; wood residues; and wood wastes to offset the use of fossil fuels, saving owners money while reducing net greenhouse gas emissions and boosting local economies.

Projects and Benefits:

Renewable energy projects promoted through this Forest Service effort are typically implemented at hospitals, jails, universities, district energy systems (multiple buildings or facilities served by one energy system), and industrial facilities. Projects that move forward to implementation are truly sustainable, providing short- and long-term economic, environmental, and social benefits that include:

  • Reduced annual energy costs (woody biomass typically costs 50-80% less than fossil fuels per unit of energy produced).
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions (sustainable, renewable, biomass-based thermal projects are considered carbon neutral).
  • Development of local markets for low-use wood and wood residues from forest management activities, wood residues from forest industries, urban wood wastes that are typically land filled, and materials that are removed from fire-prone areas to reduce fire hazard in the future.
  • Increased local economic benefits (new local jobs are created and dollars spent on energy stay in the local economy).

Program Services:

WERC serves a 35-state region. WERC pursues these steps to identify and implement projects through its Technical Support Team:

  • WERC partners with local governments, State governments, or nongovernmental organizations to identify potential projects and gather preliminary data on these projects. The projects may have either public or private sector owners.
  • WERC provides an initial evaluation of potential projects. The level of this initial evaluation varies depending on the quality of information provided for each project, but typically includes conceptual-level values for potential fuel savings, general project economic potential for the owner, greenhouse gas reductions, available woody biomass supply, and local economic impact.
  • The local and State partners select the projects they would like to see move to the feasibility stage, and WERC ranks the projects against other projects under consideration in the Program. WERC then provides feasibility studies for projects that have a high potential for implementation. 
  • Should an owner decide to implement a wood energy project, WERC may provide the following technical services associated with developing the project:
    • Technical assistance with grant writing
    • Technical assistance with developing Requests for Proposals for project design or design-build contracts
    • Technical support for evaluating designs and technologies proposed by potential vendors
    • Additional services as appropriate, including specific fuel supply analyses

Contact Information:

For additional information on the efforts of the Woody Biomass Technical Support Team or to develop a cooperative effort in your State, region, or community, please contact:

Lew R. McCreery
Biomass Coordinator
U.S. Forest Service
Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry
180 Canfield St.
Morgantown, WV 26505
Phone: (304) 285-1538
Fax: (304) 285-1537

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