Financial and technical assistance that has helped homeowners and businesses in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont switch to high-efficiency wood pellet heating is now available to Adirondack homeowners and businesses through the Adirondack Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative.
The Adirondack Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative, a program of the Northern Forest Center, will provide financial incentives for wood pellet boiler installations to 20 homeowners living in Saranac, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. It will also provide funds to install 15 wood pellet boilers in municipal and non-residential buildings in Essex, Franklin and Clinton counties, with preference given to projects in Saranac, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake.
“This one project will do three significant things,” Maura Adams, program director for the Northern Forest Center, said in an announcement to the press. “It will help businesses and homeowners lower their heating costs; it will increase demand for wood pellets, which supports jobs in our forest-based businesses; and it will keep money circulating in the local economy rather than being exported. For every dollar we spend on heating oil, 78 cents leaves the local economy. When we buy wood pellets, every dollar stays here.”
According to Adams, over the 25-year life of the wood pellet boilers installed through this project, participants will reduce fossil fuel use by the equivalent of 1.4 million gallons of oil. By purchasing wood pellets instead of oil, participants are expected to keep more than $5 million in the regional economy.
Using community-based clusters of high-efficiency, low-emission wood pellet boiler installations, it’s hoped the program will show that wood pellet heating systems can completely replace oil and propane boilers. The project seeks to demonstrate the reliability and cost savings of bulk-fed, high-efficiency pellet boilers in non-residential buildings and homes.
The Northern Forest Center is partnering with the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA), Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages (AATV), New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and other organizations to launch the Adirondack Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative. Funding for the program comes from the Northern Border Regional Commission, the Overhills Foundation, and private individuals. NYSERDA also provided support through Governor Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities Program, which encourages local communities across the state to become more sustainable and energy efficient.
For non-residential participants, the Adirondack Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative will provide up to $15,000 of the cost to install a wood pellet heating system, with a goal of completing 15 installations during the two-year project. Non-residential projects are considered on a rolling basis. Municipal buildings are expected to be given preference. For residential participants, the Adirondack Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative will provide up to $10,000 for installation of qualified wood pellet heating systems.
Building owners who apply for the program and are selected, will be required to complete a free energy assessment through a designated provider recognized by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) as a BPI GoldStar Contractor.
Organizers hope the model neighborhood concept will create a geographic concentration of pellet boiler users to help develop the pellet delivery systems, installation and maintenance support that will make it easier for others to switch to pellet heating, and will allow the community to experience the convenience and savings of the high-efficiency pellet boilers.
Additional benefits of the project might include strengthening markets for low-grade wood, which organizers say will provide a financial incentive to forestland owners to keep their forests intact, and opportunities to stabilize and increase employment in forest-based businesses.
Additional resources and application materials are available online.