Aloterra Energy is expanding its biomass production and processing operations into New York State. Utilizing idle, marginal, or unproductive land, Aloterra wants farmers to grow the energy crop, Miscanthus Giganteus, which can be converted into fuel and numerous other biobased products. This tall grass is a non-invasive perennial that requires minimal fertilizer and does not need weed killing chemicals after being established.
Matt Griswold, Aloterra’s Chief Business Officer, says growing this does more than benefit local farmers. “In addition to putting money into farmers’ pockets, planting this grass will fuel the local economy by creating jobs and help improve our country’s energy security by reducing its dependence on foreign oil. We are particularly impressed with the land opportunities in this region, the commitment to this industry from the State of New York, and existing resources in the area such as the State University of New York’s Center For Environmental Science and Technology.”
The commitment to the renewable energy and biomass industries by the State of New York was expressed by State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta) saying, “Aloterra Energy is set to embark on an innovative business venture that I feel embraces several winning components. Combining agriculture and manufacturing to produce environmentally sustainable products is an equation for success. The proposal will create jobs and offer our farmers an opportunity to grow a new cash crop. I stand ready to provide any assistance possible moving forward.”
Aloterra officials will be meeting with farmers and local Farm Bureau leadership Wednesday June 27th at 7PM at the Agroforestry Center in Acra to discuss the project, answer questions, and assess interest in the biomass program from the local community. Farmers working with Aloterra in other states already have committed 20,000 acres to grow Miscanthus. They hope to get farmers and landowners in Schoharie, Delaware, and Greene counties to commit acreage dedicated to Phase I of growing this energy crop. Phase II will expand into the surrounding counties. Their goal for this New York region is 50,000 acres which will produce 600,000 tons of biomass annually.
The importance of farmer relationships for this project and the potential positive impact on the local economy was emphasized by Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R/C/I-Schoharie) saying, “I am pleased to be working with Aloterra as we advance their project. After the briefing provided to my office, Senator Seward, and the Governor earlier in the year, it was very clear that Aloterra could become an important part of strengthening our regional economy and offering our family farms additional opportunities. While this project is important from an economic standpoint, it also offers us additional opportunities to promote technologies for renewable energy generation and manufacturing. A critical step in moving forward will be to coordinate with our family farms and engage them to partner with the company.”
Aloterra Energy was awarded Project Sponsorship of 4 of 9 USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Areas in 2011. In 2012, Aloterra was 1 of only 3 projects approved for BCAP funding by the USDA. To date, farmers have planted 18,000 acres of miscanthus with Aloterra and its partners in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Arkansas. Including New York, Aloterra’s projects will mature at 250,000 acres, totaling 3 million tons of biomass produced annually.
In each of its project areas, Aloterra is developing biorefineries that will produce grass pellets for domestic and international markets, biobased products and chemicals, and eventually liquid fuels as those technologies mature.
Phase I of Aloterra’s plan is to plant 4,000 acres in 2013 in the counties of Schoharie, Delaware, and Greene. These acres will produce an initial harvest in 2014 that will be used for pellet exports and to create green consumer packaging that qualifies under the USDA’s BioPreferred program. Phase II will expand their plantings into surrounding counties and scale up the biorefinery to add additional products, such as green building materials, biobased chemicals and liquid fuels.
Reaching the goal of 50,000 acres in the region can create 800-1,000 new jobs in the initial three-county area and the surrounding seven counties included in Phase II and have an annual economic impact of $50 million. Phase I is estimated to create approximately 45 full-time direct and indirect jobs and can be completed by the end of 2014.
The Biomass industry and energy crops address several critical economic and environmental goals that New York and the U.S. are trying to accomplish. Growing this renewable energy source puts America’s farmers on the front lines of helping reclaim our country’s energy independence and keeps U.S. energy dollars inside our borders. Critically, energy crops create local manufacturing jobs that cannot be exported since the logistical challenges associated with biomass require local processing. The economic impact is multiplied by offering landowners and local farmers of idle and marginal land an opportunity to grow a new income-producing energy crop. The biomass industry combines two critical segments of the local economy- agriculture and manufacturing. One acre of land can grow from 10-15 tons of miscanthus for as many as 20 years, which is a much higher yield than other biomass energy crops. The versatile fiber that is produced has many applications in paper products, polymer and liquid and solid fuel fields.
For information about this press conference or Wednesday night’s meeting or the benefits of growing Miscanthus, contact Matt Griswold by phone at either 281-547-0566 (direct) or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Aloterra Energy LLC:
Aloterra Energy, LLC develops integrated biomass projects that involve the planting of dedicated energy crops on underutilized land and the establishment of manufacturing facilities to produce numerous products including energy pellets, paper products, and construction materials. Aloterra and its partners planted 18,000 acres of miscanthus in 2012 under the USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Using a combination of private and public sources of funds, Aloterra is expanding into other areas of the country that offer available underutilized land, an experienced labor pool, and existing transportation infrastructure (www.aloterraenergy.com).