The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service will award $1.5 million in total to seven rural communities through a new Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation grant program, the department reported on Monday.
“The Forest Service is taking advantage of this new program to invest in rural communities motivated to convert leftovers from their local sawmills or forestry operations into renewable wood energy,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.
USDA’s new program will help to fund the costs of installing wood energy systems and building innovative wood product facilities in rural communities nationwide, which has been granted through the 2018 Farm Bill. The awardees have been selected from five states and will use locally sourced wood to reduce energy costs and fossil fuel use while supporting local forest management.
In addition to the funds awarded through the new grant program, awardees will leverage an additional $3.4 million in matching funds. Together the seven communities are projected to save more than $250 thousand a year by using locally supplied, renewable wood energy.
The program will also fund wood energy facilities, typically manufacturing or processing plants, including sawmills, that make products like building components, such as mass timber and other innovative offerings made from low-value or low-quality wood.
“The communities will save on energy costs and enhance energy resilience while sustainably managing their forests. These infrastructure investments immediately create permanent jobs for rural Americans determined to keep their communities vibrant and self-sufficient,” added Christiansen.
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