Biomass energy studies underway at 10 Vt. Facilities

By Anna Austin | April 06, 2012

The U.S. Forest Service and Vermont have teamed up to conduct preliminary feasibility studies for small-scale biomass energy systems at 10 public buildings across the state.

The studies are being conducted by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service Wood Education and Resource Center through its Wood Energy Technical Assistance Program.

The program was announced in January at the Annual Vermont School Woodchip and Pellet Users Conference, and the application deadline was March 1. Managers for the program received 34 applications from schools, manufacturing facilities, state and town-owned buildings and other facilities across Vermont, according to the Forest Service.

Applications were ranked based on the type of current heating fuel used, average annual fuel bill, existing heating and distribution system, and the completeness of the application. When the preliminary studies are complete, they will outline whether or not biomass heating makes sense at each facility, and they will include a summary of the wood utilization options, the opportunity for fuel savings, and a 30-year life-cycle cost analysis.

An additional 19 facilities were selected for site visits for a final determination about the usefulness of a preliminary feasibility study, and the Forest Service said more studies may be completed if additional appropriate facilities are identified and funding is available.