Switchgrass Showing Promise

Frankfort, KY – It's called Switchgrass, and it's a tall-growing, warm weather grass that once covered the commonwealth. Now, it's being touted as an alternative energy source, and a pilot project in eastern Kentucky is showing promise. University of Kentucky agronomist Tom Keene says 70 tons of ground-up Switchgrass, grown by Kentucky farmers in 12 counties, is being mixed with coal and burned at an East Kentucky Power plant in Mason County.

"Switchgrass will generate around 75-hundred to eight thousand BTU's per pound. High-grade coal is usually somewhere around 12 or 13 thousand. So, we're roughly about half to two thirds of the BTU's of coal."

Keene says the Switchgrass is being used as a supplemental fuel to see if it can help coal-fired plants reduce carbon emissions. Funding for the four-year project is coming from Kentucky's share of Tobacco Settlement dollars.