The 13-state Western Regional Biomass Energy
Program picked 19 projects in 10 states totaling nearly $1 million
for possible funding. Four projects selected are in Nebraska.
Western is one of five regional biomass energy
programs funded by the U.S. Department of Energy designed to further
the goal of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy resources
to generate electricity and power vehicles.
Negotiations Begin Soon
"Projects were selected on technical merit," Jeff
Graef, Western administrator said. "Over the next few months,
Western staff will contact grant winners to finalize project details such
as cost and completion dates."
The 19 projects selected by Western's advisory panel
allocated $947,530 for the projects. Those projects anticipate adding
at least $2.138 million in funds from other sources.
Western requires the winners to at least match the grants dollar-for-dollar. The particulars on each of the Nebraska projects selected:
$4.8 Million Requested
Lincoln - Nebraska Soybean Board
Grant of $8,806; Matching funds of $15,619
This one-year project would expand the use of soybean and
diesel fuel blend in all the medium and heavy-duty trucks
operated by the Nebraska Department of Roads. An earlier use
of soybean-enhanced fuels was limited to several sites
in eastern Nebraska. Under this effort, one-quarter of
one-percent of each gallon of diesel used by the state agency
will contain soybean oil.
Lincoln University of Nebraska
Grant of $20,000; Matching funds of $90,440
This grant will provide a portion of the financing for
the University's 85 percent ethanol entry in the 1998
Ethanol Vehicle Challenge. This college-level competition
pits mechanical engineering students from 14 schools in a
test to improve the operation and fuel efficiency of a
vehicle that runs on a higher percentage blend of ethanol and gasoline.
Nebraska City National Arbor Day Foundation
Grant of $58,734; Matching funds of $71,368
The existing fuelwood energy plant visitors' center will be modified
to allow viewing of the inner workings of the Lied Center's
heating/cooling operations that are fueled by wood. An
interpretive exhibit and other exhibit materials will also be developed for use in the visitors' gallery.
York High Plains Corp.
Grant of $75,000; Matching funds of $221,500
This project will examine the feasibility of using methane gas
produced from ethanol waste water to power a fuel cell that
generates electricity and heat that could be used by the ethanol plant.
If successful, this would be the first use of a fuel cell
utilizing biological waste from an ethanol plant, rather than processing the waste through sewage systems.
According to sources at Western, 82 project applications for a record-shattering $4.8 million were submitted in January for funding. "Even if the entire regional biomass budget was available for these 82 projects, we would still be $1.8 million short," Graef said. Only $3 million is being shared this year among all five regional biomass programs across the nation.
Making the Hard Decisions
Each of the 82 proposals was reviewed four times. The proposals were checked for completeness, evaluated by experts in the project area, ranked by the representatives from the 13-member states and checked by the U.S. Department of Energy for diversity and geographic balance.
The Nebraska Energy Office in Lincoln provides day-to-day operations for Western. The U.S. Department of Energy's Denver Regional Support Office provides management oversight.