Chinese Camp, CA — A planned facility in Tuolumne County that will transform forest biomass into hydrogen has received a pair of $500,000 state grants.
Yosemite Clean Energy, based in Mariposa, is developing plans for a site on 45 acres in Chinese Camp near the existing Pacific Ultrapower site. The money from the California Department of Conservation is via a “Forest Biomass to Carbon-Negative Biofuels” grant program. The two grants will support project engineering and the first stage of development. The Tuolumne County project was the highest ranked for recommended funding in the state during the grant review process. Yosemite Clean Energy is also developing a project in Oroville, which ranked second.
The group’s CEO and co-founder, Tom Hobby, says, “It gives me great pleasure to see the Tuolumne County project be selected as the number one recommended project in California to support the vision of protecting Tuolumne County’s resources, becoming better stewards of our natural resources, and creating new employment for the county. Both my parents Loyd Hobby and Bonnie McDow-Hobby were born in Tuolumne County and my family has been here since the 1800’s. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the larger effort to improve forest stewardship, provide hope for reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfires, and seeing this beautiful place preserved for future generations to enjoy.”
The company plans to partner with local wood suppliers and investors who will provide seed capital, and under long-term agreements provide a stable source of biomass to support the plant. The goal is to provide the highest value per ton of biomass that can flow back to local wood suppliers and collectively increase the acres of forest thinning done across the region.
Further information provided by the company, adds, “Yosemite’s Tuolumne project will utilize 90,000 tons of wood waste per year, and will seek to procure 2/3 of the biomass feedstocks from approximately 2,500-4,000 acres of sustainable forest stewardship work done per year on Federal and private forest lands in the region. The remaining 1/3 of the biomass will be sourced from neighboring Stanislaus County and will be procured from orchards as an alternative to open burning.”
The money awarded is part of the first round of a two-phase grant program. The next phase will provide 2-4 awards, between $10-million to $20-million to construct projects.
The Yosemite Clean Energy project is one of a few new forestry related economic development generators planned in the county. We reported earlier on Golden State Natural Resources’ plans to construct a plant on J-59 in the Keystone area and Tuolumne Biomass LLC’s proposed project on O’Byrnes Ferry Road.
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