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Wyden wants Oregon federal buildings on biomass


Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Monday he wants the federal government to replicate the successful use of biomass energy in Oregon and Wallowa County by using the renewable energy source when it leases or builds federal facilities in the state.

In his letter to General Services Administrator Dan Tangherlini and U.S. Forest Services Chief Thomas Tidwell, Wyden urged the GSA to reconsider constraints on using biomass in federal facilities for heat, or combined heat and power, in certain circumstances.

“In Oregon, we are beginning to see considerable advances in the production of biomass for energy uses,”Wyden wrote.”Additionally, demand for biomass energy is expanding rapidly across Oregon.”

Wyden spotlighted sizable investments in Oregon by rural forestry and lumber businesses in pellet mills and other links in the biomass supply chain.

He also noted the Forest Service’s support of programs to support biomass use and market development because those programs restore forest ecology and reduce wildfire threats.

And he highlighted how Oregon rural communities lacking access to natural gas have turned to biomass for heating, generating both cost savings and pollution reductions.

Wyden said that in Wallowa County, Wallowa Resources saved $40,000 a year in annual energy costs when it converted an aging hospital into office space with two new biomass boilers, and the Enterprise School District saved $70,000 a year by converting to biomass heating.

“Despite these promising developments, I have heard from my constituents that the GSA process is making it difficult for new Forest Service building leases to utilize biomass for heat and energy,” Wyden wrote, citing the lack of a permanent office or visitor center at the Wallowa Whitman National Forest five years after that building burned down.

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