"Bill Belden says many of the hurdles of the project have been cleared -- harvesting switchgrass, developing a system for grinding it, burning it with coal, and improving plant emissions. Still, the biggest challenge is the economic one. Right now, coal is about $20 a ton, delivered to this plant 125 rail cars at a time., five times a week "Comparatively speaking, coal is still dirt cheap," says Belden. Proportionally, the price of coal hasn't risen as fast as crude oil at $72 a barrel, and at this stage the economics don't really favor replacing coal with switchgrass. However, Alliant Energy is a forward-thinking regional power company that wants to be proactive on new sources of energy. "This energy plant here is the biggest and most modern boiler in the Alliant fleet," says Belden. "They gave us that to work with. We couldn't have done this without them."
[biofuel switch grass]