From an article by Steve Cahalan in the La Crosse Tribune:
WEST SALEM — A West Salem farm cooperative and others are looking at the possibility of providing and processing low-quality wood as fuel that could be burned at power plants, including Xcel Energy’s waste-to-energy plant on French Island.
Xcel and the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence each are providing a $25,000 grant to fund the biomass fuel study, which began a few weeks ago and is expected to be completed by November. The study is being done by the Energy Center of Wisconsin, an independent, nonprofit organization that explores energy ideas.
The Cooperative Network, a statewide association that provides various services to co-ops, also is involved in the study.
The project will evaluate the business potential for gathering and processing sustainably harvested waste wood for fuel and determining the market value of woody biomass, the groups involved in the study said Monday.
It will examine woody biomass availability within about 50 miles of West Salem, and look at possible benefits and costs to have agricultural cooperatives provide the biomass.
The study will look at such ideas as harvesting and chipping existing low-quality wood — such as box elder trees and even brush — and planting, harvesting and chipping low-quality trees that grow fast, such as poplar and black willow.