Agriculture Secretary’s Visit Highlights First BCAP Project

Steve Flick shows Secretary Vilsack biomass pellets

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently visited the Flick Seed Company and Show Me Energy Cooperative as part of the Obama Administration’s Rural Tour. Secretary Vilsack praised the operation as a model to “create new opportunities in rural communities and new markets for farm products.”

Shortly after Secretary Vilsack’s visit, Show Me Energy Cooperative became the first in the nation to be approved under the USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), providing a working model for sustainable biomass energy. Flick and his partners have developed an agricultural enterprise that provides jobs and increased income for growers – all while helping to slow global warming.

Show Me Energy Cooperative’s story began after founder Steve Flick decided to turn the waste material from his seed company, Flick Seed Company, into an alternative energy source. With the help of a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant, Flick Seed developed a biomass pellet plant. Flick then worked with local farmers to start Show Me Energy Cooperative, a pioneering producer of energy crops, to add prairie grasses to his biomass mix for high energy pellets.

Show Me Energy's pellet production site

The biomass pellets have diverse uses. Show Me Energy markets for home heating fuel, fuel for small businesses and for generating energy at universities and utility companies. One ton of pellets contains as much energy as 190 gallons of propane, making it a useful renewable energy source.

In 2008, the co-op completed a 150-ton pellet co-firing test run at a coal power plant, keeping over 253 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere. The co-op’s partnership with Kansas City Power & Light may lead to biomass pellets entirely replacing other fossil fuel sources to generate electricity at that power plant in the future.

Local Benefits: Jobs and Income

BusinessModelThumbThe co-op’s operations reflect its mission to support the local community and economy. The 400 members’ farms provide biomass for the pellets and they are all within a 100 mile radius of the production plant, keeping energy use and transportation costs low. When using crop resideus, Show Me only accepts materials where at least 30% of residues were left on field. Show Me Energy also helps local businesses by blending in biomass residues from local commercial operations. Show Me Energy’s business model benefits local farmers and residents most by creating green jobs, new revenue streams for farmers, and a secure, clean energy source.

Economic Benefits and Global Warming Solutions

As Flick points out, the co-op’s model works for lots of different energy uses, from advanced biofuels, to heating and power—creating both economic and environmental progress. With this flexibility, Show Me Energy’s model could bring economic progress to communities across Rural America while helping us all cut carbon pollution that causes global warming.

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The control room at Show Me Energy's plant

The control room at Show Me Energy's plant

Biomass pellet bags being prepared for delivery

Biomass pellet bags being prepared for delivery

A truck picks up a shipment of pellets to deliver to Northwest Missouri State University

A truck picks up a shipment of pellets to deliver to Northwest Missouri State University