New Hampshire's wood pellet and wood boiler industries will be
getting another boost, thanks to a decision by the Public
Utilities Commission to fund a former federal stimulus
program with $450,000 from the state's Renewable Energy
Under the program -- the only one of its kind in the country -- the
PUC will rebate the installation cost of fully automated wood
pellet boiler heating systems, to a maximum of $6,000.
That's a full heating system, with a wood furnace in the basement
being fed automatically, controlled by a thermostat in the
home, not a wood pellet stove in the living room fed manually
with 40 pound bags, which is more often used to supplement
the main furnace downstairs.
The program will provide rebates to the first 80 to 100
homeowners who sign up -- a small fraction of the roughly
325,000 homes in the state that primarily heat their homes with
oil and propane, but a large fraction of the 250 or so homes
that currently have a wood heating system.
This is the second go-round for the program, which was first
funded in 2010 with $450,000 in federal stimulus money via the
New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning. That program
soon ran out of money, so in May 2011 the state came up with
another $100,000, which was quickly exhausted as well. All
told, some 96 homes switched to wood furnaces.
But with the federal budget possibly going over a fiscal cliff,
no one is even talking about more stimulus money. So this
year's $450,000 is coming from the Renewable Energy
Fund, which is supported through penalties that utilities
pay the state if they don't meet requirements to provide
an increasing percentage of energy from renewable
By 2025, 23.8 percent of the energy must come from
renewable sources. Recently the law was relaxed a bit to
allow a larger percentage of that standard to be supplied
via bio-fuels, like wood pellets.
This year, the demand for the wood heating rebates may not
be so great because of the low price of natural gas, but
about two-thirds of the state geographically and about 40
percent of the population don't have access to natural
gas, said Charlie Niebling, general manager of New
England Wood Pellet in Jaffrey, the state's largest
manufacturer of wood pellet fuel.
Full details on the rebate program can be found on the PUC
website or by calling 603-271-6011.
The renewable energy fund also provides grants to specific projects via a
competitive process. On Monday, the PUC announced the latest round of
seven awards totaling about $750,000:
• Cartographic Associates Inc., $43,000: Cartographic Associates will replace
three oil-fired furnaces at its offices in downtown Littleton with a single
high-efficiency wood pellet boiler. This project will be leveraged with an
investment of $22,762 by the grantee, for a total project cost of $65,762.
• Claremont Fire Department, $52,000: The Claremont Fire Department will
install a high-efficiency wood pellet boiler at its circa 1917 fire station.
Total project cost is $65,000.
• Colby Solar LLC, $100,000: Colby Solar will install solar electric panels on
Colby-Sawyer College campus buildings in New London. Colby-Sawyer will
purchase power from Colby Solar at below-market rates for six years. The
college will then purchase the solar arrays at a deeply discounted price. The
solar system is expected to result in a savings of about $20,000. Total
project cost is $474,622.
• Northeast BioEnergy Systems LLC, $93,000: Northeast BioEnergy Systems will
install a wood chip boiler at Russell Elementary School in Rumney. The school
will enter into a power purchase agreement with Northeast BioEnergy
Systems, with the option to purchase the system later at a deep discount
compared to the original project cost of $372,000. The new boiler is expected
to result in cost savings of $35,000 annually.
• Sullivan County, $300,000: The county will install a district energy system at the
Sullivan County Complex. Wood chips will be used to generate both heat and
electricity for several county buildings, including a jail and nursing home. The
renewable cogeneration system is expected to create energy savings of
$290,000 per year. Total project cost: $3.18 million.
• University of New Hampshire, $59,750: UNH will install a solar hot air system on
the façade of Kingsbury Hall on the Durham campus. This system will use
sunlight to pre-heat the large volumes of fresh air. Total project cost:
• Walker Wellington LLC, $100,000: Working in partnership with the city of Dover,
Walker Wellington will install a turbine generator in the outfall pipe at the
city's wastewater treatment facility. The turbine will generate 80 megawatt
hours of electricity per year, Total project cost: $129,000. -- BOB
SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW