Monday, May 29, 2017

Municipalities, Non-Profits Urged to Switch to Wood Pellet Boilers

Wood pellet heaterOn May 31, an open house will showcase the new wood pellet heating system at the Massena Chamber of Commerce and explain how municipalities and nonprofits can receive up to $10,000 each in financial assistance to switch to fully automated wood heating systems. The chamber installed its modern, high-efficiency wood pellet boiler in 2012.

Area residents are invited to the open house to learn about this automated way to heat with wood, and the financial assistance that is available to help with purchase and installation costs.

The Adirondack Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative, a program of the Northern Forest Center, is offering financial incentives to 10 municipalities or nonprofits in St. Lawrence, Hamilton, Clinton, Franklin, or Essex counties to help with purchase and installation of qualifying wood pellet boilers, which use a local, renewable fuel instead of oil or propane. A residential incentive program is also underway, focused around Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Saranac.

The information session will be May 31 at the Chamber of Commerce, located at 16 Church Street in Massena, beginning at 4 pm. Center staff will introduce the financial assistance program, pellet boiler installers will be on hand to answer questions, and a tour of the chamber’s wood pellet boilers will be offered.

A similar open house is planned for June 5 at the Long Lake Town Hall in Hamilton County, where the Town of Long Lake has also switched to modern wood heat for its building.

Over the 25-year life of the wood pellet boilers installed through this project, participants are expected to reduce fossil fuel use by the equivalent of 850,000 gallons of oil. By purchasing wood pellets instead of oil, participants will help keep more than $2 million in the regional economy and generate about $3.7 million in positive economic impact.

The Center is supporting installation of high-efficiency wood pellet boilers in specific communities to demonstrate that clean-burning wood pellet heating systems can completely replace oil and propane boilers and support the local economy.

Other benefits of the project include strengthening markets for low-grade wood, which provides a financial incentive to forestland owners to keep their forests intact, and opportunities to stabilize and increase employment in forest-based businesses.

The Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative is part of the Northern Forest Center’s renewable energy program, which is building the market for high-efficiency, fully automated wood pellet boilers for homes and small-scale commercial installations in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York and advocating for supportive public policies on the state and federal levels.  Funding for the Adirondack Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative is provided by the Northern Border Regional Commission.

The Northern Forest Center builds economic and community vitality while fostering sound forest stewardship across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Additional resources and application materials are available online.

Photo: Wood Pellet Heating System, courtesy Wikimedia user Geneva2106.

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3 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    How pellets compare with oil in price and greenhouse emissions?

    • Jesse B says:

      Tim, wood pellets (and would in general) do not contribute to CO2 concentrations in the same fashion as fossil fuels. Of course burning biofuels adds CO2 to the atmosphere, but this CO2 is already part of the active carbon cycle. Meaning it is a component of the short-term re-circulation of carbon between the atmosphere, plants, water, and soil. There is no long-term net change in CO2 from pellet burning.

      Fossil fuels, however, take carbon that is stored and locked away and releases it into the atmosphere. This is a new source of long-term carbon not part of the active system, but now added to a previously balanced system. Since the natural systems for long-term storage of carbon act very very slow (e.g. think limestone formation), this previously locked away carbon builds up in the atmosphere and oceans, leading to more acidic water and an increased ability to retain heat in the air.

  2. Paul says:

    The one thing that doesn’t thrill me about this is that it seems like where they are cutting for wood pellets they just go in and slash the whole stand. Larger trees go to the mill and everything else can go in the chipper. Not very selective cutting. But I guess the upside is that just about any wood will work. This also has a positive ripple effect on the local economy.

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