Further investigations into the development of a biomass industry in Lincoln County highlighted several ideas presented by Mike Baughman, Executive Director of the Lincoln County Regional Development Authority, at its regular meeting June 26.

The U.S. Wood Pellet Association will hold its annual conference in Las Vegas Oct. 9-11, and Baughman noted several executives from leading industrial wood pellet manufacturers from the southeastern U.S. will be in attendance.

These executives, he said, might be interested in expanding operations to the western U.S. to serve the growing European demand for wood pellets.

“These pellets are a drop-in fuel substitute for coal in European nations, but can be handled just like coal,” he said. “There are millions of tons being exported out of the southeast U.S.”

He explained the next big market for the wood pellet companies is Asia, including China, Japan and Korea. These companies are interested in setting up pellet mills on the U.S. west coast, “and have become somewhat intrigued with our area because we’re on the Union Pacific mainline that terminates at the Port of Los Angeles and we also have a lot of biomass here. The pinyon-juniper biomass shed also extends into Utah and Colorado.”

In order to make the biomass possibilities of Lincoln County even more attractive, Baughman said he has approached the Nevada pinyon juniper Partnership, a USDA Forest Service-funding entity, about setting aside $5,000 for use by LCRDA to develop and implement a marketing strategy focused at the major executives who will attend the conference.

Cory Hunt, Deputy Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development has indicated, Baughman reported, “that the GOED would be supportive of such an initiative and might also be able to provide staff and/or some financial assistance.”

LCRDA member Dave Hurd suggested the possibility of “arranging a hospitality suite to host the biomass industry executives at the conference,” and maybe even bringing a few to Lincoln County for a tour of the pinyon and Juniper woodlands, and to meet with local and BLM officials.

Unanimous approval was given to a motion to explore the development and implementation of a marketing initiative focused on those attending the Wood Pellet Association meeting in Las Vegas.

In other news, Baughman said he will be presenting some ideas for solar development in the Coyote Springs Development when he attends the Solar Power International Conference in Las Vegas in September.

At the conference he and representatives of Coyote Springs, and other land owners in Lincoln County intend to provide information to conference attendees of private land sales available for utility-scale solar development in the county. If possible, some meetings with interested parties might be pre-arranged to fit into their schedules at the conference.