Other Biomass Grants & Grant-Funded Work

Grant-Funded Projects

The County’s 2007 Strategic Plan (PDF) recognized the need and opportunity for stretching County funding by seeking other sources of funding with the following goal: “Identify $10,000,000 in grant funding to examine feasibility of potential projects, provide for impacts of biomass to energy projects."

Many of the grants received by Placer County were either directly or indirectly related to Biomass Utilization. Available reports documenting projects funded by these grants can be accessed via the links below. These projects were carried out to explore the feasibility, economics, logistics and emissions reduction benefits of utilizing biomass for energy in lieu of disposal on site through open burning. A general overview of all grants and the projects they funded is contained in the Strategic Plan for the Placer County Wildfire Protection and Biomass Utilization Program.

Shirttail Succor Oak (SSO) Project

The Shirttail Succor Oak (SSO) Project was the first is a series of projects that have been carried out to study the effects of utilizing excess biomass for energy production in lieu of disposal by open burning. The project called for chipping large piles on the SSO Project located on the American River Ranger District, Tahoe National Forest. The chips were transported to the Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) mill site in Lincoln California where they were burned in a biomass energy facility. Results of the project, documented in a report to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and in a peer-reviewed national journal article, showed dramatic reductions in emissions from utilizing the biomass for energy. The results provided initial information and catalyst for completion of a Biomass Waste for Energy Project Reporting Protocol that can be found on the Placer County Air Pollution Control District website.

Air & Waste Management Journal article Report to Sierra Nevada Conservancy Collaborative Program for Testing Alternative Treatment & Utilization of Excess Forest Biomass - Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, U.S. Forest Service

In order to explore the feasibility of utilizing excess biomass for production of energy in a local facility, a participating agreement was developed between Placer County and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit to complete biomass removal and fuel reduction on two national forest projects-Rubicon and Crag-totaling approximately 100 acres. Having to haul the material 60 miles or more to existing biomass energy facilities at either Loyalton or Quincy made both projects economically infeasible. However, the two projects resulted in significant reductions of air emissions in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Rubicon & Crag Projects Last Chance Project

This biomass project involved processing, transporting, and utilizing for energy production, the excess biomass - small trees, and limbs and tops of larger trees - that was generated by the Last Chance forest management project on the Tahoe National Forest. The Last Chance forest management project was part of the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP) - a collaboration between the U.S. Forest Service, the University of California, other state and federal agencies, and the public - to research the effects of fuels reduction projects conducted by the Forest Service on forest health, fire behavior, water quality and quantity, wildlife, and public participation.

Scotts Project

The Scotts Biomass Fuel Project (Scotts Project) was a collaborative project between the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) and Placer County that was carried out under the provisions of a Supplemental Project Agreement (SPA) signed on June 6, 2013. The SPA was tiered to the existing Master Stewardship Agreement (MSA) between LTMBU and the County. 

Clean Air Grants

Placer County and the Placer County Air Pollution Control District (PCAPCD) have worked cooperatively for several years on projects related to sustainable forest management, wildfire protection, biomass utilization and air quality improvement. As noted in the Strategic Plan for the Placer County Wildfire Protection and Biomass Utilization Program, the PCAPCD has provided funding for many projects implemented by Placer County. More importantly, the PCAPCD has provided in-kind support for implementation and documentation of several projects. The PCAPCD’s recognition of the benefits of forest management and biomass utilization in reducing wildfire threat and the associated impacts on air quality has led to this unusual partnership. In addition to providing grant funding, the PCAPCD has done unique work in development of protocols for carbon credits related to biomass utilization in energy facilities and carbon credits for biochar and reduction of carbon emissions resulting from forest management that reduces wildfire effects. More details on cooperative work and projects related to biomass utilization can be found on the PCAPCD website.

Biomass Box Program

The County received a Clean Air Grant award from the PCAPCD for $70,000 to implement a “Biomass Box” program. The program objective was twofold. First, to encourage County residents to clear defensible space around their homes to improve fire safety and survivability. Second, to provide a means for collection and utilization of the resultant brush, tree limbs, natural debris, etc. to produce energy. Through the implementation of this grant, 3,361 green tons of waste biomass material was collected and converted to 2052.6 megawatts (MW) of electrical energy (enough to power 228 homes for one year). Because this material was burned in a controlled facility instead of open burning, the net reduction in emissions was 88.6% or over 300 tons.

Other Projects & Programs Related to Biomass Utilization

There have been other projects and programs related to Placer County’s Biomass Utilization Program that are supported in concept by Placer County but were not part of the County’s Program per se. One such project involved completion of two papers for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) related to forestry in the counties that are part of SACOG. One paper assessed the current status of forestry in those SACOG counties containing forestland. The second paper recommended strategies or innovations for addressing problems and opportunities identified in the assessment.