Funding Approval Gives Go Ahead to Bioenergy Project

(Grand Marais, MN)  With an end to the state government shutdown, work can now move forward with the second phase of the Cook County Biomass Energy Feasibility Study. As part of “Supporting Community-Driven Sustainable Bioenergy Projects”, this effort will continue and expand on the first phase of the biomass energy study. The project is being undertaken by Dovetail Partners, Inc. with funding provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.


“We are excited about moving forward with this project and working with our partners to investigate bioenergy potentials for Minnesota’s communities,” said Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director of Dovetail Partners.


In a letter of support submitted to the LCCMR in March, 2011, Cook County Board of Commissioners Chair Jim Johnson had described this project as “a vital part of our overall effort to develop bioenergy.”


The project will consist of two steps. First, an expanded analysis will be conducted of long-term feasibility, impacts, and management needs for community-scale and other small bioenergy applications being proposed in Ely and Cook County. This information will be presented to these communities to assist them in determining the viability of proposed projects. Following this, the decision-making tools used to assess these types of projects will be shared with communities, land managers, policymakers, investors, and others interested in the long-term prospects and viability of locally produced bioenergy. The funding approved for the project is $150,000 over a two-year period.


Phase I of the Cook County biomass energy feasibility study is nearing completion. It presents detailed analysis of biomass fuel types and current availability, existing and potential energy demand, and a broad spectrum of biomass energy scenarios that could be applied in Cook County. A report on Phase I work is scheduled for presentation to the Cook County Commissioners on September 20.


“The report will answer important questions about capitol and fuel costs, payback periods, and other aspects of converting to biomass energy,” said Cheryl Miller, biomass study project manager. “It will present a range of options and help people in Cook County understand the advantages and disadvantages of each.”


Phase II will complement the earlier report by offering a broader, long-term analysis of the environmental, social and economic impacts which may result from increased biomass utilization in the county. Similar information will be developed for the Ely, Minnesota area in support of their proposed biomass-fuelled, CHP (combined heat and power) facility. Collectively, the data generated will provide a regional picture of locally-produced bioenergy and its associated impacts, and will create a framework and tools which can be applied by other communities contemplating a conversion to biomass as an energy source.


Both the Cook County Biomass Energy Feasibility Study and the LCCMR-supported project are being led by Dovetail Partners, Inc., a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that provides authoritative information about the impacts and trade-offs of environmental decisions, including consumption choices, land use, and policy alternatives.


For more information about Dovetail Partners, Inc., visit


For information about the Cook County Biomass Energy Feasibility Study, follow the link or