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Colorado: Feds guarantee $40 million loan for Gypsum wood biomass power plant

Beetle-killed trees may help provide power in Eagle County.

New facility would generate enough power for 10,000 homes

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After years of talk, some of the high country’s hyper-abundant beetle-killed trees may yet be converted to energy after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $40 million loan guarantee to finance construction of biomass generating plant in Gypsum.

Various agencies and officials have long been talking up the idea of using wood from beetle-kill clear cuts and ongoing forest treatments for energy production, but those plans haven’t moved past the discussion stage.

Summit County explored biomass energy options for community buildings several years ago, but found that the economics didn’t work out. Wood biomass is commonly used in Europe on a community scale.

The Gypsum plan will generate up to 11.5 MW, enough to power nearly 10,000 homes.

“This loan guarantee is proof of Colorado’s leadership in innovative renewable energy technologies, as we work to modernize and improve how rural communities in our state receive their electricity,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. “These efforts to diversify and clean our energy portfolio are a positive step forward.”

The grant is part of the USDA’s Rural Development initiative.

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