Berlin, N.H., pellet boiler subsidy program extended indefinitely

By Luke Geiver | February 16, 2012

A pellet boiler subsidy program designed to help 40 homeowners in Berlin, N.H., reduce heating costs through wood pellet-based heat has been extended indefinitely. It was slated to expire this month.

The Model Neighborhood Project, a collaboration between the Northern Forest Center, Berlin BetterBuildings, the City of Berlin and equipment manufacturer Maine Energy Systems, first started in the fall of 2011 with the goal of providing subsidies that would pay for roughly 75 percent of the transition costs associated with installing and operating pellet boilers. That is still the goal, according to Dutch Dresser, director of Maine Energy Systems.

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, the main funding agent responsible for providing the subsidies, had been using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to pay for the costs of the project. To date, the program has helped install five new boilers. Now, according to Dresser, the project will continue, but the funding isn’t tied to the ARRA money. “The program has gone very well so far,” Dresser said. “The homeowners are gleeful with their savings. They can’t wait to show their neighbors.”

Dresser recently held an educational luncheon in Berlin, offering interested participants the chance to ask questions about the program and about Maine Energy System’s boilers. He believes a second round of participants will sign up for the program after comparing the cost savings potential of switching to pellets.

Maine Energy Systems has also been collecting data on the program and on the ÖkoFEN wood pellet heating systems used in the program, which Dresser said offer heating cost savings up to 50 percent.

The initial goal of the program was to install 10 boilers by mid-February, but Dresser said interest in the Northeast is growing. “We are seeing a significant uptick in interest,” he said. “We are installing boilers in January and February, which is not common.”

To learn more about the program, click here.