Biomass Energy?

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The City of Tallahassee is in the midst of an intense search for energy options to try to offset the skyrocketing costs of energy.

Tallahassee voters approved the referendum in November that will allow the city to keep coal as an option, but the city may not have to look any further than our own backyards to provide power.

Amy Spoor, City of Tallahassee Public Information Officer, says, "The City of Tallahassee is 95 percent reliant on natural gas and oil to generate electricity, so we're really looking hard to diversify those fuel resources."

One way city utilities managers think they can diversify is with renewable resources like biomass energy.

Tallahassee just passed a first screening for a grant through the U.S. Forest Service that would match about one hundred thousand dollars so the city can begin moving forward with a biomass energy program.

Gary Brinkworth, manager of Tallahassee Utilities Strategic Planning says, "In Florida, Leon County is the number one rated county for biomass opportunities and I think we're in the top ten for the southeast."

By burning "woody waste" from surrounding forests, like underbrush, the city would be able to create energy.

Brinkworth says a plant he has in mind would provide 15 megawatts of power.

Brinkworth says, "We think it makes a lot of sense for us, we're looking very hard at options that allow us to utilize local resources here in a way that is environmentally responsible."

The final application for the biomass grant is in March. Brinkworth says the city is also looking into solar power, however, those technologies are expensive, so he says the most cost effective way of using solar would be on an individual household basis.

He says city utilities expects to complete the study, which is examining the most cost-effective power options for the city in the spring.