Switchgrass grows all over the US. It can survive drought, doesn’t need fertilizer or to be grown on cropland. Researchers have designed a stove for $3,000 that can burn the sticky switchgrass in pellet form, a comparable price to efficient home heating stoves that use wood pellets.
The northeast US in particular seriously needs to do heating some other way than heating oil. Switchgrass pellets are renewable and don’t require forests being logged to make wood pellets.
Spot heating oil is nearly $4.00 a gallon today (it was $1.97 in the winter of 2007.) Next winter in New England it could easily be more than that. Many will not be able to heat their homes at that price. But with switchgrass and a new stove (which would literally pay for itself in a year or so) they will be able to.
Switchgrass, of course, can also be used as a feedstock to produce ethanol. Amazing plant, isn’t it?