What the Experts are Saying About Biomass
"Well-planned sustainable biomass power plants are a viable source of clean renewable electricity, and thus are helpful for the task of phasing out coal-fired power plants. Knee-jerk opposition to all biomass projects has no sound scientific basis and is harmful to attempts to stabilize climate for the sake of our children, grandchildren, and future generations. In my opinion, the proposed 100 MW Gainesville Renewable Energy Center deserves support and is a useful step toward the essential task of phasing out coal emissions."
- James E. Hansen
Climate Scientist, Columbia University, Dept. of Earth & Environmental Science
"Biomass electricity is a crucial toolalong with energy efficiency, solar, wind and other renewable resourcesfor reliably meeting our energy need while addressing climate change."
– Stephen A. Smith, D.V.M.
Executive Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
"The basic idea is, when you use woody biomass you're substituting a locally produced resource for an imported resource, which is coal and natural gas, primarily. By getting fuel supplies from within the state, that's money remaining here and it can stimulate further economic activity in the state."
– Alan Hodges
Extension Scientist, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
"The forest products industry as we know it today has helped to build our state's economy and culture by providing a sustainable supply of wood products, jobs for rural communities and an enhanced quality of life for many people. The industry adds over $16 billion to the state's economy and provides a multi-million dollar tax base to support local schools, roads and support services."
– Jeff Doran
Executive Vice President of the Florida Forestry Association
"Farmers in Newberry and western Alachua County grow tens of thousands of acres of tree crops, which are currently sold as pulpwood or chipped up for horse stall bedding. A biomass plant in Gainesville would give farmers a viable market for waste wood. Tree trimmings and byproducts of the forestry industry will be used, making use of a product, which we currently dispose of by open burning or sending to a landfill. What a great idea, using crops to produce clean renewable energy."
– Bill Conrad
Commissioner, City of Newberry
"Biomass power is good for the forests, and good for the state of Florida. As confirmed by numerous studies from highly credible organizations, the forest resource is more than sufficient to sustainably supply the GREC project. Its operation will improve forest health, provide much-needed economic benefits to the forestry industry and help 'keep forests in forest.'"
– Don Post
retired professor of forestry at the University of Florida and landowner
"Unlike finite fossil fuels resources, biomass is renewable and therefore not subject to as much upward price pressure. According to expert testimony before the Public Service Commission, there's about six times more residual biomass in the area than needed without using whole trees."
– Rob Brinkman
"Florida could be the Saudi Arabia of biomass. We have the waste, like citrus peels, forestry waste and sugar cane waste. And we've got the land, the climate and the rainfall to grow fuels like pine trees and eucalyptus."
– Tommy Boroughs
charter member of the advisory board of the Florida Engineering Systems Consortium;
former chair, Florida Energy Commission; Governor's Energy and Climate Action Team
"Gainesville's choice to go with biomass is a strategic decision. After six years of research and a vibrant public discussion, the City Commission approved the biomass plant based on a thorough evaluation of alternatives, including other renewables and traditional fuel sources like coal and natural gas. Investing in biomass as the primary renewable energy source is the most cost-effective, long-term option currently available in Florida and provides added benefits to the community."
– Bob Hunzinger
General Manager of Gainesville Regional Utilities
"Here in Florida, biopower companies are already proposing projects to create energy from materials that would otherwise be land filled or burned openly in slash piles. In rural areas in particular, providing opportunities for municipalities and counties to create their own energy with area-grown resources, including short-rotation woody crops, is exciting from both a renewable energy and an economic development standpoint."
– Charles H. Bronson
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services
"During this crucial period in Florida's history, there exists a fundamental need for substantive leadership focused on expanding energy diversity and economic growth."
– Representative Charles S. Chestnut, IV
Chair District 23 Florida Legislative Delegation;
Senator Steve Oelrich
Vice Chair, District 14;
Representative Debbie Boyd
"We support renewable energy, and believe that biomass in particular provides many benefits to our state's farming and ranching communities. For the forestry industry of Florida to remain vibrant and continue to be the economic driver that it is today, we need the new markets and new demand for low-value wood products that biomass power will encourage. Many thousands of families depend on the forest and forest products industries. Biomass power is needed to keep our forests, and the forest industry healthy, in the face of the many real challenges we are facing."
– Andrew Walmsley
Assistant Director, Agricultural Policy Division, Florida Farm Bureau Federation
"Private forest landowners need the new markets and new demand for low-value wood products that biomass power will encourage. The operation of biomass facilities, and GREC in particular, will improve forest health, provide much-needed economic benefits and security to the forestry industry, and will help 'keep forests in forest.'"
– Scott Jones
Chief Executive Officer, Forest Landowners Association
"We know that approximately 1.6 million tons per year of forest residues (about 60% of the total) is burned in the open within the 75 mile radius of Gainesville. About 600,000 tons of this, it is estimated, would be sent to the biomass plant, and it is reasonable to assume that 60% of this amount would also have been open burned. When burned in the open the same amount of wood would generate approximately 2.7 million pound of particulate matter, 90% of which is PM 2.5. As a comparison, this is 10 times the particulates emitted by the GRU Deerhaven coal-powered electricity plant in 2009."
– The late Kathy Cantwell, M.D.
former member of the Alachua County Air Quality Commission and the Gainesville Energy Advisory Committee
"Biomass power is an attractive choice for our environment, with significant environmental benefits compared to alternative forms of generation."
– Rod Smith
former Florida state senator