Burgess BioPower wins grant for thermal energy recovery system

By Burgess BioPower | May 16, 2019

Burgess BioPower was recently awarded $500,000 in grant funding from the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission to build a thermal energy recovery system to beneficially utilize energy from Burgess’ steam condenser cooling water circuit. The recovered energy will be used to heat a state-of-the-art, $25 million hydroponic greenhouse, growing baby leafy greens, to be located on the plant’s property in Berlin. This marks an important milestone as Burgess BioPower looks to complete a co-location agreement with a third-party company, which would build and operate the greenhouse, bringing additional jobs and economic contributions to the area. The grant award was the result of a competitive PUC application process initiated last October to increase thermal renewable energy generation using money from the state’s Renewable Energy Fund.

“The grant from the NH PUC will allow us to attract additional economic development to Berlin,” said Dammon Frecker, Executive Vice President, CS Operations Inc. “The city of Berlin is very special to us and bringing more jobs and tax dollars to the area has been our goal since our arrival in 2008. We are committed to doing our part to both expand Berlin’s economy and to select co-location partners who value the Berlin community and the state of New Hampshire like we do, and who share our commitment to environmental sustainability.”

“The NH PUC grant and continued development of the Burgess BioPower site shows the company’s steadfast commitment to the city of Berlin,” said Paul Genier, mayor of Berlin. “Burgess BioPower is one of the best things to happen to Berlin in the past 15 years. The company is a shining example of what a great corporate citizen can do for a community. Helping to develop new projects and bring more jobs to town is just one of the most recent examples.”

The recovery system will repurpose heated water that’s created by Burgess’s cooling water circuit as it lowers the temperature of steam from the power-generating turbine. This energy is currently rejected to the atmosphere by the facility’s cooling tower. The warm water will be piped to the proposed greenhouse to heat the facility, allowing it to grow produce year-round, whatever the weather may be outside. The proposed greenhouse project will grow baby leafy greens, such as spinach, arugula and kale. 

The project involves using well-demonstrated heat recovery technology in an innovative way, making Burgess the only utility-scale biomass power plant in New Hampshire that also provides useful thermal energy to a co-located commercial enterprise. Burgess also continues to work with the City toward utilizing the waste heat recovery system to provide heat to the streets and sidewalks in the downtown area.

Burgess BioPower currently employs 27 people at the Berlin plant. In addition to those jobs, the plant significantly contributes to the local economy, especially through its payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) to the City of Berlin totaling $1,150,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. According to an economic impact study released in 2017, without this much-needed revenue, Berlin’s tax rate would have increased by nearly 5 percent. Berlin taxpayers (with a home at median value of $88,400) also saved approximately $168/year in property taxes they would have otherwise paid. The savings were expected to reach $300/year in FY 2019. The study also found that in 2016, Burgess BioPower supported 184 jobs in Coos County, of which 43 percent were in the logging and sawmill industry; in total, the jobs in Coos County accounted for $11.5 million in labor income.