Local News

Borough receives $140K federal grant for biomass

Wood pellets are seen at the Tongass Forest Enterprises facility in Ketchikan.

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough is among a handful of recipients nationwide of a U.S. Forest Service grant to help fund efforts to promote the use of woody biomass for heating and energy.

The borough will receive about $140,000, which will be used to fund the design and engineering work for biomass boilers at the airport and high school.

Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst said it’s exciting to be one of only 10 chosen to receive a grant, and he’s pleased the work can move forward.

“With other biomass systems in place and under consideration here in Ketchikan, it’s important to continue to develop this industry,” he said.

The Ketchikan Public Library has a biomass boiler, as do two federal buildings downtown. There is a local business, Tongass Forest Enterprises, which runs a small wood-pellet operation.

“Pellets are becoming more and more available, and the more biomass systems that are developed and utilized in Ketchikan, the greater the potential for further development of the industry here in the community,” Bockhorst said.

After the design and engineering stage, the borough will need to purchase and install the airport system. Bockhorst said the school district plans to apply for state grants for the high school system.

He said those costs are not yet known.

Only one other Alaska group received a grant through the program. The Chilkoot Indian Association in Haines was awarded $35,000.

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