Manitoba grants C$444,000 in subsidies to 20 farms, agri-businesses to convert from coal to biomass heating; Tri J Industries sawmill receives US$32M to expand into woodchip biomass to meet growing demand

WINNIPEG, Manitoba , February 25, 2014 (press release) – Greenhouse-gas Emissions Down in Manitoba since 2000

As part of the province’s commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, 20 farms and agri‑businesses across the province are receiving more than $444,000 in grants to switch from coal to biomass heating systems, Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron Kostyshyn and Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.

“Manitoba’s plan to increase biomass energy is creating good, green jobs in rural Manitoba and adding value for Manitoba farmers,” said Minister Kostyshyn. “We are reducing our carbon footprint while supporting the growth and long-term sustainability of many rural businesses.”

These projects are estimated to reduce the amount of coal used by more than 4,500 tonnes every year, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by approximately 7,000 tonnes as a result. The amount of biomass available for use is expected to increase by 7,600 tonnes annually as a result of the funded projects, the minister said.

“These grants put the necessary infrastructure and tools in place to support the transition away from coal and into renewable fuels,” said Minister Mackintosh. “It’s clear that Manitobans understand and support the need to make this change for the long-term health of our environment, our communities and the economy.”

Successful projects received up to half the cost of capital or infrastructure upgrades to a maximum of $50,000 through the Manitoba Biomass Energy Support Program. Sixteen grants will help farms convert from coal to renewable biomass energy. The other four recipients are processors who will use the funding to improve capacity and efficiency in their businesses.

Tri J Industries, a sawmill near the town of Riding Mountain, received more than $32,000 to purchase processing equipment that will support its expansion into woodchip biomass.

“The demand for woodchip biomass is growing and this grant will help our company grow along with it,” said John Janzen, a partner in Tri J Industries. “We have always sold firewood in our business, but now we will also be able to produce woodchips to sell to the local market and diversify our company.”

Manitoba has committed to use coal and petroleum coke (petcoke) tax revenues to help coal users convert to biomass. The province implemented North America’s first coal heating ban on Jan. 1. If an approved conversion plan is submitted by June 30, a grace period to comply will extend to July 1, 2017.

These grants also support the province’s bio-products strategy created in 2011 to encourage the development of value-added processing in rural and northern Manitoba’s agriculture and forestry sectors. More information on Manitoba’s biomass sector is available at www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture.

The province also released its 2012 climate change report today, which is a progress update on Manitoba’s emissions reduction under the Climate Change and Emissions Reductions Act. The report indicates that since 2000, Manitoba’s population has increased by 11 per cent, the economy has grown by 31 per cent but greenhouse-gas emissions are down by two per cent. The report is available at http://gov.mb.ca/conservation/climate/pdf/2012_climate_change_web.pdf.

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