Construction begins on New York pellet heating project

By New York Department of Environmental Conservation | August 09, 2017

The New York Power Authority, Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Police, and Adirondack Park Agency recently announced the start of construction on a wood pellet biomass boiler heating loop at the Ray Brook State Office Complex in Essex County in the North Country. The $3 million renewable energy project will be undertaken by NYPA in partnership with DEC, State Police, and APA in support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's BuildSmart NY program, which calls for a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption by all state agencies by 2020.

Fueled by wood pellets, this high-efficiency, low-emission boiler systems will provide heat to DEC's Region 5 headquarters, APA headquarters, and the New York State Police Troop B headquarters.

The renewable heating loop system will save the state in annual energy costs while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 391 tons a year—that's the equivalent of taking more than 80 cars off the road. In addition, this project will help sustain the regional forest products industry, a critical component of the North Country's economy.

Officials from several New York State government agencies were joined by state and local elected officials in a groundbreaking ceremony today to kick off construction of the renewable project at the State Office Campus in Ray Brook.

"The Ray Brook Biomass Project is another big step towards Governor Cuomo's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of renewable energy sources," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "There are a host of benefits associated with this project, including creating jobs in the Adirondack region, keeping energy dollars in New York, lowering heating costs, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and promoting sustainable forest management."

"As part of the state's effort to reduce its carbon footprint and energy use, NYPA is implementing hundreds of millions of dollars in energy-saving measures at public buildings each year," said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. "This renewable energy project helps us continue our progress in meeting the Governor's ambitious energy goals and is another step in creating a clean energy economy."

The renewable energy project is being carried out under Governor Cuomo's BuildSmart NY program, the comprehensive statewide initiative to increase energy efficiency in public buildings, and also supports the state's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. The program also supports New York's Reforming the Energy Vision strategy to build a statewide energy system that is clean, resilient, and affordable for all New Yorkers.

State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, "This project represents an opportunity to improve efficiency and lower costs at Troop B Headquarters, allowing us to keep more resources focused on our core missions. I want to thank our partners at the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Adirondack Park Agency and Governor Cuomo for supporting this project."

APA Board Chairman Sherman Craig said, "The Adirondack Park Agency is proud to be part of Governor Cuomo's innovative strategy to lead on climate change through the implementation of clean energy technologies. This project reduces our energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Governor Cuomo's plan for New York is an energy solution for all states to aspire to achieve."

The biomass project was first outlined in Governor Cuomo's Renewable Heat NY initiative, a long-term commitment to help grow the high-efficiency and low emissions biomass heating market. The project will demonstrate the advantages of using biomass for heating while providing experience for manufacturing, operating, and maintaining biomass boilers, which will improve the ability of both sectors to compete with traditional energy projects.

Pre-feasibility studies by DEC and the U.S. Forest Service, and a study by the New York Energy Research and Development Agency, conducted by Pyramid Energy Engineering Services evaluating the technical energy and economic feasibility, determined that a three-boiler system using wood pellets as fuel and distributing heat to each of the office buildings through a district heating loop could meet 90 percent of the heating needs.

NYSERDA is providing a $300,000 funding grant toward the project. The remaining cost will be split by the three benefiting state agencies.

NYSERDA President and Chief Executive Officer Alicia Barton said, "Renewable heating and cooling is a largely untapped energy source and this project is an example of Governor Cuomo's initiative to expand the use of all clean energy resources to reduce the carbon footprint of state facilities and promote wider adoption of these technologies."

The advanced boilers are made in New York with the latest efficiency and emission reduction technologies and operate most efficiently when running at full load. The fully automated system will turn on and shut down the boilers based on the building's heating needs.

The building housing the boilers will include an observation and education space to provide information to the public about the system's components and function and real-time information on the fuel use and heat output. Nearby technical and higher education institutions will be encouraged to visit the site to learn more about the system and its operation.

"Just last week, I visited the Logger Training School at Paul Smith's College, where almost 20 students have been learning in the classroom and the field how to harvest timber in a safe and sustainable way and to be financially successful doing so," said Sen. Betty Little. "The biomass market is very important to our logging industry and it is important for our environment as well. I am pleased to join Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Seggos in announcing this renewable energy project, which fits so perfectly into our goals for the Adirondacks."

Essex County Chairman Randy Preston said, "The forest products industry has always been a major component of the North Country economy. So we are very pleased that this facility is being built at the State Office complex in Ray Brook. It will bolster the local wood chip industry, create jobs and broaden economic opportunity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Once again Governor Cuomo balances economy and environment inside the Adirondack Park"

John Bartow, executive director of the Empire State Forest Products Association said, "The new clean energy project at Ray Brook is exemplary of renewable biomass technology that supports energy needs at state facilities, renewable energy resources, carbon goals and local jobs in the forestry sector of North Country."

Kate Fish, executive director of the Adirondack North Country Association said, "ANCA is a strong proponent of the Ray Brook Biomass Project. Clean, renewable energy projects such as this are critical to sustaining the regional forestry sector, which supports 9,900 jobs and $3.9 billion in industry output. ANCA is committed to driving the Adirondack North Country to a more resilient and localized energy economy, including a robust biomass market."

"The Wild Center is thrilled that the State, under Governor Cuomo's leadership, is implementing clean energy technology projects such as this biomass facility. With every new installation we strengthen and expand the renewable energy market especially here in the Adirondacks", said Stephanie Ratcliffe executive director at the Wild Center. "When wood pellets are delivered to The Wild Center for use in our boiler we know that energy dollars are staying local and that our working forest keeps working providing jobs."

Jerry Delaney, chairman of The Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board said, "We applaud Governor Cuomo and his Agencies for this District heating project. It promotes the three pillars of the Adirondacks. FOREST by creating an end user of low grade wood. COMMUNITY by creating jobs, and CLIMATE, by continuing the dedicated march towards renewable energy goals in New York."