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Project in Progress

It’s great when a city-wide biomass project continually makes progress in development. That’s what I’m seeing in Montpelier, Vt., where a biomass district heating system will replace the state government complex’s old heating system.
By Lisa Gibson | May 04, 2012

It’s great when a city-wide biomass project continually makes progress in development. That’s what I’m seeing in Montpelier, Vt., where a biomass district heating system will replace the state government complex’s old heating system.

The entire project is a great model for what cities can do to use biomass resources instead of fossil fuel. Included in the plan is an expansion of the network, as well, to include some city buildings and other nongovernment structures in the loop. The project has been in the works for a while and I wrote a feature article about it a year ago.

It’s fresh in my mind again because it received a $1 million grant this week, as well as a $175,000 loan. Back in June, the city had approved a $2.75 million bond issue. And at the 2011 International Biomass Conference & Expo in St. Louis, Gwen Hallsmith, the city’s director of planning and community development, excitedly announced during her scheduled presentation that Vermont lawmakers had voted to give the project $7 million to contribute to construction costs.

It’s refreshing to see legislators, as well as citizens get behind a biomass project. I don’t see that very often lately. 

I wonder if it’s because of the nature of the project. The existing district heating system, which does fire a blend of biomass, is old. With 15 years of operation under its belt, the plant needs to be replaced. I imagine it would be far more difficult for the city and state to so overwhelmingly support this project if an upgrade weren’t so desperately needed, or if the system didn’t already use a portion of biomass with its fossil fuel.

Anyway, I enjoy this success story and I hope it will spur action in other communities. I’d like to see it when it’s done. 

 

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