Fairbanks, Alaska, Oct 28, 2013 -- U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD) Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund traveled last month to Fairbanks to meet with the manager of Superior Pellet Fuels, LLC and tour the facility. The occasion was to celebrate the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant award to this Interior Alaska business.
“The Obama Administration has been pressing to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels and to promote locally available and abundant renewable energy,” stated Nordlund. “It is mind-boggling to me that much of rural Alaska heats buildings with imported fuel oil, costing as much as $8/gallon, when we have locally available wood resources that can be much more economical. Wood pellets and other forms of wood biofuels provide a clean, abundant and local source of fuel. There are also many local jobs created in the manufacturing of pellets, briquettes, chips and other biofuels. Superior Pellet Fuels is a great example of the promise Alaska holds for the production of wood biofuels, both for local consumption and as an export commodity. We are pleased to partner with Superior in the growth of this industry,” Nordlund said.
REAP helps producers reduce energy costs and increase production efficiency. For example, with the REAP grant a mechanical briquetting press at Superior will be installed in early October, 2013 at the pellet facility and it is capable of producing nearly 20 tons of wood briquettes each day. This product, also known as an "energy log" is made from low moisture compressed wood fiber with no glues or binding agents added.
This product is used as an alternative to firewood and offers significant reductions in air quality emissions, longer burn life, is cleaner to handle in the home, provides more BTUs than cordwood, and is cheaper than buying processed firewood in the local market.
"Superior Pellet Fuels, LLC greatly appreciates the support from USDA-Rural Development by providing grant opportunities through the Rural Energy America Program. The assistance provided to encourage the purchase and installation of the wood briquette manufacturing system will greatly impact Interior Alaska by offering another option to help residents reduce home heating costs while working to improve air quality in our community," said Chad Schumacher, General Manager, Superior Pellet Fuels, LLC.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that today's funding announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy. He said that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
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