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Governor Brian Schweitzer Announces Grants for Biomass Energy Feasibility Studies

September 17, 2009View for printing

Governor Brian Schweitzer today announced two Montana energy companies have been awarded a total of $425,000 in grants for biomass energy feasibility studies through the Montana Department of Commerce. The Department has awarded $300,000 to Porter Bench Energy, LLC and $125,000 to NorthWestern Energy for the preparation of biomass feasibility studies focused on assessing the potential for the development of woody biomass generation plants in Montana.

The potential for biomass power production in Montana is significant. Timber waste has proven to be a valuable feedstock and new energy development can be a shot in the arm to a struggling timber industry.

The State of Montana is looking to the western part of the state as a potential location for private sector driven development of woody biomass energy generation plants. This will be a complement to ongoing projects that use alternative energy sources for power generation.

The Montana Reinvestment Act (HB 645), passed by the 61st Montana Legislature, appropriated $475,000 in funds for the Montana Department of Commerce to fund biomass project feasibility studies and other expenditures related to biomass. The Montana Reinvestment Act implements the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

"Biomass is another tool we can use to build a smarter, cleaner energy future for Montana," said Governor Brian Schweitzer. "By harnessing this and other innovative energy ideas, we can help to ensure the viability of timber jobs for Montana families and communities and manage forest health. Through these funds, we are putting people to work, reinvesting in our economy, improving efficiency, increasing public safety, and making a cleaner, healthier Montana."

The grant to Porter Bench Energy, LLC will assist the company in advancing its mission to develop multiple biomass plants in Montana. PB Energy has completed an initial review of biomass power generation potential in Lincoln and Flathead Counties. With this grant, they will expand their research to include the entire Western part of Montana.

The grant to NorthWestern Energy will enable the company to assess the feasibility of constructing up to eight biomass electricity plants throughout its service territory in Montana, concentrating on an area from the Flathead Valley, through Missoula, Butte and Big Timber. NorthWestern could potentially purchase or construct up to 200 MW of biomass electricity through this region and will partner with state and federal agencies to facilitate this study.

The remaining $50,000 in grant funds will be awarded to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to continue existing biomass programs. "Biomass energy can create the jobs of tomorrow," said Anthony Preite, Director of the Montana Department of Commerce. "The objective of these studies is to produce tangible results that can be used to further biomass projects in Montana. Encouraging ways to utilize Montana's renewable energy resources is good for our college graduates, our job market and our economy while it addresses important concerns about climate change and energy security."

For more information on the Biomass Feasibility Study Grants visit:, or contact: Tom Kaiserski, Program Manager, Energy Promotion and Development Division, (406) 841-2030,


Montana Biomass

Environmental Quality Council

September 10-11, 2009

Using the draft work plan tasks for House Joint Resolution No. 1, approved by the Environmental Quality Council, as a guideline, a discussion of other state activities in the area of biomass and a snapshot of biomass projects and proposals in Montana are outlined below. A brief review of federal legislation that is being contemplated by Congress, which may have a significant impact on biomass projects in Montana, is also included.

Full Report: ... biomass.pdf

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Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. Full copyright retained by the original publication. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

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