Heating the Midwest Conference Delivers Key Information and Best Practices for Biomass Thermal Renewable Energy Opportunities


More than 200 experts and leaders attended Heating the Midwest Conference held in Green Bay, Wisconsin from April 30th-May 1st, 2014
(Green Bay, WI) – The Heating the Midwest Conference was held this week in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The presentations and keynote speakers provided key information related to biomass thermal technologies, best practices, challenges, and opportunities.  More than 200 experts, researchers, business leaders and others attended the event. More than 30 different businesses and supporters were exhibitors.
One of the issues addressed at the conference was the uncertainty of propane pricing. This winter, propane prices spiked to $6.67 per gallon, with many paying prices nearly double the cost of a year ago. The propane energy crisis has had a direct impact on thousands of households and businesses. Rising costs and long-term uncertainty in fossil-fuel pricing create opportunities for home-grown biomass and other renewable fuels.
Ms. Holly O’Higgins from the Wisconsin State Energy Office and the author of Wisconsin Energy Statistics was a speaker at the conference. She addressed pricing of heating fuels, how biomass marketers can gain a larger share of a volatile heating fuel market, and the prices and supply of space-heating fuels.
“The conference brought together leaders of the woody and agricultural biomass industry,” said Brian Brashaw, Program Director for the University of Minnesota Duluth, Natural Resources Research Institute and Chair of the Heating the Midwest Steering Committee. “The industry keynote leaders provided advice on expansion needs and strategies and there were many excellent case study examples of efficient, clean, and cost-effective biomass thermal technologies.”
Businesses that are interested in energy options should also be aware of the new Minnesota Statewide Wood Energy Team. The team launched its programs earlier this year and has been developed to help Minnesota facilities and businesses move toward realizing the opportunity to cut costs, support local economies, and advance clean energy development. The Statewide Wood Energy Team also participated in the Heating the Midwest Conference.
“The Statewide Wood Energy Team is looking for commercial or municipal facilities in Minnesota that are currently stuck using high cost sources of energy and that are interested in looking at their options with biomass technologies,” said Anna Dirkswager, Biomass Coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and manager of the Statewide Wood Energy Team. “Many private and public organizations have been using biomass energy for decades and today’s modern and high-efficiency systems offer a next generation of opportunities.”
“Today’s wood energy technologies reduce energy costs while creating local jobs, mitigating wildfire risks, and providing renewable energy,” said Lissa Pawlisch, Director of the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and member of the Statewide Wood Energy Team.
The Heating the Midwest conference was held in Green Bay, Wisconsin from April 30 – May 1, 2014. For information about this event and future events, visit: www.heatingthemidwest.org.



Additional Conference Information:
Additional keynote speakers at the Heating the Midwest conference included, Scott Nichols, President of Tarm Biomass addressing Midwest Biomass Thermal Energy: Opportunities and Challenges Ahead. Dan Wilson, Chairman of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council and Vice-President of Wilson Engineering Services that addressed Effective Strategies to Increase Biomass Thermal in the Midwest. Josh Kaurich, Division Manager of H & H Energy Management who spoke about Biomass Energy Assessment and Integration Opportunities.
There were also pre-conference tours of local biomass energy systems. The tours on April 29th included Greenwood Energy, a biomass pellet producer in Green Bay; Schroeder Floral, a Green Bay greenhouse heated with woody biomass, Marth Companies in Peshtigo, a pellet producer with a biomass heating system; and Krueger Lumber in Valders which has a biomass heated facility and dry-kiln system as part of a hardwood sawmill.
A special thermal heating fair was also offered during the Heating the Midwest event, where residents and businesses of the multi-county area surrounding Green Bay were able to enter the Expo area without charge to see and hear about the latest in technologies on Wednesday, April 30th.


About the Minnesota Statewide Wood Energy Team
The Minnesota Statewide Wood Energy Team consists of individuals and organizations that work together to advance woody biomass goals and recognize the need to promote woody biomass utilization as a strategy to accomplish: forest management, diversified markets for the existing forest products industry, forest wildfire risk reduction, economic development and localized wealth retention, and state renewable energy strategies. The core team includes representation from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Duluth, Natural Resources Research Institute, and the USDA Forest Service Wood Education and Resource Center, the Clean Energy Resource Teams, Dovetail Partners, and the Headwaters and Arrowhead Regional Economic Development Commissions. Additional partners include the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, USDA Rural Development, Minnesota Forest Resources Council, Great Plains Institute, BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, FVB Energy, WoodMaster, Fond du Lac Band of Superior Chippewa, and the Agricultural Utilization and Research Institute. The project manager is Minnesota DNR Biomass Coordinator, Anna Dirkswager.
About Heating the Midwest

Heating the Midwest (HTM) is a group of volunteers with a serious interest in growing awareness and usage of biomass thermal fuel for heat in the Midwest. The HTM mission is: “To advance biomass thermal heating in the Midwest for a more sustainable future, while improving the economic, environmental and social well-being of the region. “Driven and directed by a Steering Committee, Heating the Midwest includes industry, government, non-profit organizations, university representatives and tribal representatives. It is a group of biomass advocates working to promote biomass to a larger constituency, including government policy makers and entities, consumers and businesses in the Midwest.