Residents living in the wild fire prone “red zones” of Golden, Colorado could soon get a new source of energy from the forests that surround them. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton introduced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between federal, state and local entities for a feasibility study to determine the viability of creating a biomass energy demonstration facility in Jefferson County.Golden, Colorado – August 02, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Forest debris, also known as slash, from trees cut down for wild fire mitigation would be burned in the biomass plant to help supply electricity to the homes in the area. The risk of wild fires should also be reduced by the selective cuts made for mitigation because the amount of fuel available to feed a fire will be reduced. Plans for the demonstration plant would place it inside the red zone. “This project addresses two of the top six regional issues facing the Western Governors’ Association as recently reported by the media — stemming wildfire and developing new sources of renewable energy,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Richard M. Sheehan. “Wildfire mitigation is particularly important to Jefferson County. More than 64,000 of our residents live in this red zone, where wildfire has consumed approximately 70,000 acres of forest in the past eight years. Any large-scale effort to clear out the slash will deter the spread of wildfire.” Agencies involved in the Memorandum of Understanding include: Jefferson County, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Xcel Energy.