Pellet boiler tour offers energy lessons

  • A statewide Wood Energy Team got a close-up look at pellet boilers in operation from Montague to Charlemont Friday. Massachusetts is one of 22 states that have a wood energy team funded by the U.S. Forest Service, according to Massachusetts Forest Alliance President Charles Thompson. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 12/2/2016 10:10:49 PM

A statewide Wood Energy Team got a close-up look at pellet boilers in operation from Montague to Charlemont Friday, as part of a federally funded effort to teach town officials and others about better use of wood for energy.

The tour by more than a dozen representatives of regional and state agencies included visits to the pellet boiler system used at the John W. Olver Transportation Center in Greenfield, a private six-apartment building in Montague that include a wood pellet boiler, three new state-funded pellet boilers at Hawlemont Regional School and a wood-fired kiln system at Hall Tavern Farm’s sawmill.

Massachusetts is one of 22 states that have a wood energy team funded by the U.S. Forest Service, according to Massachusetts Forest Alliance President Charles Thompson, who led what is planned to be the first of several such tours around parts of the state here in the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership region that includes western Franklin and eastern Berkshire counties.

“These are designed to promote, explain and encourage appropriately scaled local wood energy projects, to let them see some of these systems to get a sense of them,” he said.

After examining the 750,000 BTU-per-hour SolaGen System pellet boiler that heats the transit center — described by Brett Grout as having been oversized for the building’s needs in 2011, so that it doesn’t operate at peak efficiency, the tour migrated to a Route 63 farmhouse where owner Barry Elbaum has installed a 68,000 BTU pellet boiler as well as a solar hot-water system integrated with the building’s oil furnace to efficiently provide forced domestic hot water and hot-water heat for the six apartments efficiently.

“I feel very good about saving and not using oil,” Elbaum told the gathering. “It is an option for me which is very valuable.”

At Hall Tavern, Healy said, waste slab wood is used to run the kiln and heat the sawmill’s buildings, and within a couple of weeks, the system is expected to be in place to heat the kiln by using either propane or wood-fired forced hot water.

Hawlemont’s 190,000-BTU-per-hour system of five pellet boilers, funded by the state Department of Energy Resources, is projected to save the regional school district about $1 million over 15 years, Healy said.




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