Quinault Nation Receives Grant for Pellet Manufacturing Plant

Source: Water 4 Fish

TAHOLAH, WA (11/24/13)– The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) has received a $63,231 US Department of Agriculture Rural Business Opportunity Grant to conduct a feasibility study on the viability of a tribal pellet manufacturing plant on the tribe’s reservation, according to Fawn Sharp, QIN President.

The envisioned pellet mill is expected to consume logging slash blended with higher grade fiber and/or alternative bio-crop fiber such as Arundo Donax (Nile Fiber), to produce industrial quality pellets that eliminate the need for annual logging slash burns, according to Sharp. “We also anticipate creating new jobs as this Tribal Enterprise is developed. New jobs would include facility operations and maintenance, biomass harvesting, biomass sorting, mechanical equipment operators, truck drivers, and administrative support,” she said. “We anticipate as many as 36 new jobs from this project.”

Upon completion the study will bring the Quinault Indian Nation one step closer to a sustainable biomass for heat system that not only provides heat to essential tribal facilities but will also begin a new technology on the Reservation.

The Quinault Nation has been investigating the use of forest biomass material generated from QIN forest management practices as fuel for heating new or existing tribal facilities for years. The existing Tribal facilities being considered for retrofit in support of a biomass for heat facility include the Tribal Health Clinic, Department of Natural Resources, the Executive Office complex and the Administration complex.

To officially get this project off and running, QIN partnered with Columbia-Pacific Resource Conservation & Economic Development District (ColPac) to apply for grants from the USDA Rural Business Opportunity Grant Program and the US Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization Grant Program. The successful grant application was done in support of a biomass feasibility study on the Quinault Reservation. The feasibility study, successfully completed in January of 2012, determined QIN generates more than sufficient biomass quantities to sustain a low pressure boiler system using wood chips or pellets (created from forest slash) as a green fuel source to produce low cost wood heat.

Due to the project’s focus on biomass as a sustainable renewable energy resource, a diverse team of partners and the potential for new Tribal jobs in support of biomass for heat technology, the project was designated as one of seven national USDA Great Regions Projects by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2010.

“Currently our project is in the final engineering and design phase for a QIN Biomass for Heat Facility,” said Sharp.  “In support of this phase QIN applied for and was awarded a 2012 US Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization Program Grant in the amount of $205,000,” she said.

Engineering and design of the QIN Biomass for Heat Facility is being accomplished by Richmond Engineering and includes the following tasks: Abbreviated Master Plant Site Selection, Schematic Design, Design Development, and Final Design/Bid Preparation. The QIN Biomass for Heat Facility is being engineered and designed as a low pressure hot water biomass heating facility.

The initial Biomass Feasibility Study concluded that 400 bone dry tons (BDT) per year of biomass fuel, in chip or pellet form, would be required to generate the sufficient amount of heat for QIN’s existing buildings. Timber harvests and forest management create 32,000 BDT of biomass-slash annually. The QIN reservation falls within the lush temperate rainforest and is highly productive making this biomass project highly viable as well as sustainable.

“Air quality, wildlife habitat, and forest resources will benefit from this project. Also QIN will save $78,000-$126,000 per year in utility bills from converting our current electric heat to wood heat. When constructed our Biomass for Heat Facility will help QIN become more energy independent. It will also help us become more self-reliant as we create local jobs,” she said.

“This is the type of project that creates jobs, on and off the reservation. It promotes energy independence and supports sustainability and sovereignty,” said Sharp . “It’s exactly what we’re looking for at Quinault,” she said.