This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

March 15, 2002

Feds to Receive No-Cost Biomass Energy, Efficiency Gains

DOE announced last week that it has selected five energy service companies to provide federal facilities with energy efficiency services combined with energy from biomass and "alternative" methane sources. DOE's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) will set up umbrella contracts with the five companies, making it relatively simple for individual federal sites to arrange for these services. Called Energy Savings Performance Contracts, or ESPCs, the contracts require no investment from federal agencies. Instead, the companies finance and implement energy- saving projects, and then are repaid over a period of time based on the actual energy savings achieved.

For the five contracts announced last week, the companies will convert federal facilities to allow them to use biomass energy sources, such as dedicated energy crops and trees, agricultural crop residues, aquatic plants, wood and wood residues, animal wastes and other organic waste materials. The companies will also install systems that use methane from organic sources like landfills and wastewater treatment plants. In an unusual move, coal bed methane sources are also included. To help offset the costs of the biomass and methane systems, the companies will also install energy efficiency improvements. The combined value of the contracts may be as high as $200 million. See the DOE press release.

See also the FEMP Web site.

So what, you may ask, is coal bed methane? It's methane trapped within coal seams that is released by coal mining. If simply ventilated from the coal mines, it becomes a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, but it can instead be captured and used as an energy source. See the Coalbed Methane Outreach Program on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site.