The State of Biomass Heat: A Mid-Year Reflection from BTEC’s Chairman and Executive Director

The State of Biomass Heat: 

A Mid-Year Reflection from BTEC’s Chairman and Executive Director 


Today, we would like to share our reflection on the state of the biomass thermal industry and the progress BTEC has made, and ask you to consider joining the cause this Fall.  


We are proud to report that the association reached a record 100 members, and it stands strong with proven staff and numerous biomass thermal initiatives at the state and federal levels – a reflection of BTEC’s persistence and determination over several years. This progress has been hard earned, due in large part to the financial resources and talent BTEC members have contributed in support of the organization’s agenda to advance biomass thermal.  Now is the time to add your voice to this growing biomass momentum.


Federal Policy 

Federal policy remains a pillar of BTEC’s activities, despite the apparent gridlock in Congress and the looming presidential election. Working with Senate Energy Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman, BTEC helped draft S. 3352, an Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for highly efficient commercial and industrial biomass heating systems. This first-of-its-kind bill would level the playing field for biomass thermal technologies with other renewable energy pathways and open the door for existing federal programs. Two other priorities include extension of the credit for residential biomass heating systems and shaping the next Farm Bill (complete with its suite of biomass energy programs). In addition to legislation, BTEC has co-hosted multiple congressional biomass briefings addressing the overlooked opportunity of biomass thermal energy.


State Support 

BTEC’s efforts to promote thermal policies are extending beyond the federal level to State legislatures and agencies. The tireless work of advocates in the Northeast, the Midwest and the Pacific Northeast (to name a few regions), have helped change state level policy emphasis on biomass heating. BTEC has submitted letters of support, notified local leaders, and spread the good news on these achievements far and wide, planting the seeds of success beyond the states’ lines. As an example, the inclusion of thermal energy in NH and MD’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, and the study of thermal in MA’s, will create markets for your equipment, fuels, and services. BTEC cannot replace grassroots state associations, but our resources can amplify and accelerate the message.


Education & Outreach  

This year’s educational and outreach activities have gone hand in hand with the association’s policy priorities.  In March, BTEC successfully concluded a major outreach effort supported by the U.S. Forest Service’s Wood Education and Resource Center (WERC) that funded many webinars, factsheets, and interviews. Volunteer contributions from BTEC members helped reach the following impressive metrics:

  • 8,000+ views of the BTEC webinar page, with 1,373 views of the live recordings
  • 2,458 webinar attendees with an average webinar rating of 3.8 out of a possible 5;
  • 1,300 views of the factsheet resources webpage;
  • 700 visits to the audio interview webpage;
  • 168 visits to the comprehensive presentation page;
  • And, 24 “virtual tours” of biomass thermal installations

A separate grant from WERC that seeks to better engage architects and engineers on biomass heating is reaching new audiences, both in the U.S. Department of Energy and biomass energy manufacturers. This grant will continue through 2012.  



Finally, we wanted to share the efforts BTEC has made -and is making- to help expand the opportunities for our members’ businesses and broaden their professional network. Members take advantage of the monthly “All Hands” call, sharing local biomass successes and engaging their fellow members. If members aren’t able to make those calls, then they’ve logged on to the Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) grant and loan or government procurement tutorial webinars. Event-wise, BTEC has partnered with six biomass conferences this year alone and provided discounts to events including the inaugural Heating the Midwest, International Biomass Expo, and the 4th annual Northeast Biomass Heating Expo. BTEC’s leadership in the Northeast Biomass Heating Expo contributed to an event with a 30% increase in attendance. At each event, BTEC members have proudly represented the industry and association.


With a promising start to 2012, the remaining months bring both opportunity and strategic reflection.   In September, BTEC staff will launch a registry and provide plaques for new biomass thermal installations, to bring greater public visibility to successful projects. Also, staff will engage members on an industry survey and produce several webinars on new biomass thermal markets. Fall and winter will see changes to the association’s 2013 Program Plan and election of new Board Members and Officers.  Member input will help guide and position BTEC’s leadership and resources in an ever changing business and policy environments.


We can say unequivocally that BTEC’s hard work has led to widespread recognition of biomass thermal as a vital element of our nation’s energy policy. It is remarkable to think how far we have progressed in less than four years since our founding. We know there are serious needs in the biomass thermal industry; financial, regulatory, public acceptance, and education. BTEC was founded with the sole mission of advancing the use of biomass for thermal energy applications, and support of the association helps meet those vital industry needs. On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff, we ask you to join our organization in support of our common cause.




Joseph Seymour
Charlie Niebling
Executive Director Chairman 
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Joseph Seymour has been coordinating the policy and regulatory activities of the Biomass thermal Energy Council since 2010. In this time, he has been responsible for regulatory responses to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on various issues, including biomass boiler emissions limits and non-hazardous solid waste definitions; congressional hearings through structured statements, including the Energy Title of the 2012 Farm Bill and comprehensive tax reform; and mobilization of industry stakeholders regarding biomass thermal incentives. He has led the development BTEC’s comprehensive outreach series, including webinars, legislative and topical factsheets, and podcast interviews. He has addressed audiences on the urgency recognizing thermal energy at RETECH 2011 , AESI Facility Ribbon Cutting, and the International Biomass Expo. Finally, a few of his recent publications include: * “Why Tricycles Need Thermal Energy,” primary author, National Hardwood Lumber Association, April 2011; * “Telling the Story of Biomass Thermal,” co-author, Biomass Power and Thermal, November 2010; * “Playtime is Over: Why September Means Biomass Advocacy or the Consequences of Inaction,” author, Biomass Power and Thermal, September 2011. Joe holds a degree in Political Science and Psychology at Hope College, Holland, MI.

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