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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

UW-Point facility may receive biomass heating system

From an article by Nick Paulson in the Stevens Point Journal:

Treehaven, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point's residential natural resources education facility near Tomahawk, is one of nine sites around the state partaking in feasibility studies for biomass heaters.

The study, being funded by Focus on Energy, is analyzing utility bills, the size of Treehaven, and estimated costs in both the short term and long term to determine whether it makes sense to install a system at the facility.

How much a new heating system could save in bills won't be known until the study is finished. But according to a report by the Biomass Energy Resource Center -- a national nonprofit organization being contracted by Focus on Energy -- two schools of differing sizes in Wisconsin both saved more than $50,000 in fuel costs in the first year after switching from natural gas to a biomass system.

Treehaven currently uses natural gas heaters, and while they are efficient, the chance to at least go through the feasibility study was too good to pass up, said Treehaven assistant director John Heusinkveld, even if the expected savings wouldn't reach the level found in the study.

"We're hopeful it's something we can at least put in to back up our regular heating system," Heusinkveld said. "If we get a large enough system and find the pathways, it could be the sole heating source for the property."

Focus on Energy is considering three types of systems for the project, depending on the results from each site, all of which would use wood as the main fuel. The fuel can be wood chips, wood pellets or split logs.

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