Not all of the timber in eastern Kentucky is good enough quality to be marketed commercially. But the lower quality wood is not going to waste. A Lexington based company is one of only 17 groups nationally selected for ‘wood to energy’ project funding.
250 thousand dollars from the USDA Forest Service is coming to Eco( ECHO)-Power Generation. The firm is moving ahead with plans for a ‘biomass’ plant in Perry County. Eco-Power Fuel Procurement Vice President, Grant Curry says the plant would burn low quality timber to produce electricity.
“Eastern Kentucky has a long history of damage in forest fires. Unlike western United States fires, our fires don’t usually kill the trees but injure, especially young trees, which allows rot to start so by the time those trees are big enough to harvest they’re typically useless for the lumber production,” said Curry
Curry has participated in an inventory of more than 100 thousand acres of forest in eastern Kentucky. He says only about half is suitable for lumber uses. Much of the remaining timber has been damaged by wildfires.
“Our forests are increasingly dominated by these poor quality trees. We need a market for these poor quality logs so we can improve growing conditions for the better quality trees in the forests,” added Curry.
Curry says the federal grant will go to help pay engineering costs. He says the total price for the plant runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Curry says a ground breaking is planned this year with production set to begin in 2014.