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Brett Storey named County Employee of the Year for biomass plant leadership

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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When Brett Storey looks at the brush and overgrowth choking the sides of Sierra trails, he sees a better future. A backpacker, Storey has long enjoyed the outdoors in the mountains an hour-or-so’s drive from his Rocklin home. And for the past five years, he has been working on Placer County’s effort to bring both government and private enterprise together to utilize forest fuels that now pose a serious fire hazard. Storey, manager of the county biomass utilization project, said that goal of a biomass plant is moving closer, with funding that started under former U.S. Rep. John Doolittle and then taken up by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. For his efforts, Storey has been selected as this year’s District 3 County Employee of the Year. “I’m surprised and kind of humbled,” Storey said. “I’m just doing my job.” Holmes, who initiated the biomass energy plant concept with former Supervisor Bruce Kranz, said that Storey has been a cohesive force in moving the project along. “He’s pulled everybody together,” Holmes said. Storey, 50, was originally hired in April 2006 to put together a strategic plan to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire. Holmes said Storey immediately started to put a plan in place that resulted in adoption the next year of a proposal to use biomass. “Since that time, Brett has worked tirelessly to bring together federal, state, county, fire district and private partners,” Holmes said. With a Canadian conglomerate that now owns the energy company CalPeco, Placer County is pursuing plans for a biomass plant in the Tahoe area that could receive forest fuels from a 20- to 30-mile radius. Storey said the woody biomass would be fuel that is usually gathered into piles by the U.S. Forest Service and burned in the open. Holmes said that CalPeco could locate the biomass electrical-generation plant on land it owns in Kings Beach or locate it on property deemed suitable elsewhere in the area. “Placer County has been recognized by state and federal agencies on this innovative approach to reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfire and using the biomass as a form of alternative clean energy,” Holmes said. “Brett has played a major role.” ------------------------------------------------- Brett Storey: Fast facts Political side job: Since 2000, has served on the Rocklin City Council On the move: As an “Air Force brat,” was born in Merced and then moved from Virginia to Arkansas to North Dakota before family settled in El Dorado Hills Wildcat alumni: Attended Chico State University, graduating with a degree in business and economics Batter up: Has coached baseball from the Little League to high school level Silver anniversary: Married to his wife, Corinne, for 25 years. She teaches second grade in Rocklin. They have two sons and a daughter