F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Co. in Columbia Falls will receive a $210,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service to develop and improve its new biomass facility.
The grant was announced Tuesday by Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester.
Stoltze is replacing an antiquated boiler at its site on Halfmoon Road in Columbia Falls with a new biomass-fueled electric generation facility. In addition to reducing emissions, the steam boiler and 2.5 megawatt turbine will produce energy that flows into the Flathead Electric Cooperative grid, generating roughly enough electricity to power 2,500 homes annually.
Stoltze Vice President Chuck Roady said the project will be on the grid by October.
“Stoltze takes great pride in strengthening Northwest Montana’s economy and being responsible stewards of the land,” Roady said. “We appreciate Senator Baucus and Senator Tester stepping up to support our biomass project, which will help us expand our business and better manage Montana’s forests.”
The Forest Service grant is part of an agency initiative to encourage the use of renewable energy resources such as woody biomass. The Stoltze facility will use wood waste like bark and slash to generate electricity.
The initiative is supported by the Farm Bill, which expires in September. Baucus and Tester supported a five-year, bipartisan reauthorization of the Farm Bill that passed the Senate earlier this month, but failed to pass in the House of Representatives last week.
“This grant means real jobs that will help hard-working families make ends meet,” Baucus said in a statement. “The Senate Farm Bill helps support jobs just like these all across our state, and it’s ready to be signed into law today. There’s no excuse for the House not to take up and pass the Senate Farm Bill right away.”
Tester also voiced support of the grant, and disappointment in the House’s failure to reauthorize the Farm Bill.
“This smart investment will help Stoltze put more Montanans to work by responsibly developing our natural resources and taking care of our forests,” Tester said. “Initiatives like these help small businesses grow and create jobs while reducing the risk of wildfire. Folks in the House of Representatives need to understand what is at stake when they block the Farm Bill.”
Stoltze’s biomass project will employ six people while also supporting a timber-harvesting workforce of 65 to 85 contractors.
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