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IIRA Co-Sponsoring March 15 Tour of Eastern Illinois Renewable Energy Center

March 1, 2011

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MACOMB, IL -- A mid-March meet-up of the Illinois Biomass Working Group will provide an opportunity for IBWG members to hear about recent national developments in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biomass Crop Assistance Program, as well as tour the Eastern Illinois Renewable Energy Center in Charleston (IL).

The IBWG is comprised of farmers, business owners, university officials and officials at public agencies who meet to share information and collaborate to advance biomass energy in Illinois. According to Fred Iutzi, agriculture and renewable energy program manager at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University and the IBWG facilitator, the IBWG spring meeting is slated for Tuesday, March 15 at Eastern Illinois University (Charleston, IL) in the Martin Luther King, Jr., University Union. The plant tour will take place at the Eastern Illinois Renewable Energy Center, also in Charleston.

In conjunction with the IIRA and Eastern Illinois University, the IBWG -- which helps link together farmers with various businesses to form complete biomass supply chains and to promote collaborative efforts among the private sector, public researchers and regulators -- is co-sponsoring the event.

"The meeting will also provide the opportunity for IBWG members to hear about Illinois Project Area updates," Iutzi explained. "University of Illinois researcher Dr. Tony Grift will discuss research on the energy costs of biomass crop harvesting and densification. In addition, updates on the biomass project database, obtaining EPA permits and other working-group activities will be reviewed. The plant tour will provide participants with an opportunity to observe firsthand a biomass energy conversion facility nearing completion."

According to Iutzi, the tour groups will depart at 3 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. from the Eastern Illinois University Union.

"Those waiting for a facility tour can participate in a discussion of biomass densification technologies, which will repeat every 45 minutes at the Union," Iutzi noted.

Each tour group is limited to 20 people, so interested individuals should confirm attendance by Friday, March 4. Biomass plant tours will be assigned according to the order in which individual attendance/confirmation is received. To be assigned to a group tour, confirm with Erin Orwig at the IIRA at (309) 298-3467 or send a confirmation message via e-mail to

For more information, contact Iutzi at (309) 298-1453 or via e-mail at You can also contact Iutzi toll free at the IIRA at (800) 526-9943. Learn more about IIRA's Value-Added Sustainable Development Center at

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