About 51 percent of the wood purchased for the new Burgess BioPower biomass plant in Berlin during its first two months of operation came from New Hampshire, according to a new “sustainability” report filed with the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.
Thanks to a $250,000 dollar federal grant a new group is working to promote the burning of wood for heating in high-efficiency boilers in the Granite state
The New Hampshire Wood Energy Council consists of nearly fifty biomass supporters from state agencies, non-profit organizations, and industry representatives. Those representatives will serve as ambassadors for using wood-pellet and wood-chip boilers.
Those big stacks of wood pellets typically seen each fall in the parking lots of big box stores aren’t so easy to find right now. And, that’s posing a challenge for people like Andy Langlois of Berlin.
He heats with pellets and has become a hunter-gatherer.
“I had to start calling around as well as just stopping by places just to see if anybody has them and then how many they have,” he said.
Around the state stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot are often coming up short, spokeswomen for the companies acknowledged.
A new EPA Clean Air standard for wood stoves is set to take effect next year.
It has been 25 years since the EPA wrote the first woodstove regulations. Since the rules were last refreshed, the health hazards from the unburned particles in wood smoke have been researched and quantified. But with the new rules now pending, manufacturers are saying that prices for new stoves will rise, and worry that will result in more people sticking with dirty old stoves.
Around the state more institutions, towns and businesses are turning away from oil in favor of heating with wood, viewing it as a renewable resource that helps the region’s economy, lowers the carbon footprint and apparently saves money.
There’s a good example in the basement of the main building at The White Mountain School in Bethlehem.
The old is a huge, black, gray and rust-fringed H.B. Smith boiler that once feasted on heating oil.
A few feet away are three modern-looking, green and white pellet boilers.
New research raises new questions about how green burning wood really is, given the carbon impacts of both cutting and burning trees for energy. But biomass supporters say carbon calculations are complicated…taking into account the lifecycle of trees, the sustainable practices of foresters today…and although not perfect, is far better than fossil fuels.
Andrew Friedland - the Richard and Jane Pearl Professor in Environmental Studies in the Environmental Studies Program at Dartmouth College: He researches carbon cycling in forests.
New Hampshire is one of only three states with a split legislature: Republicans control the Senate, Democrats the House of Representatives. The two bodies have shown an ability to work together on some issues this session, including business tax credits and limits on lead fishing tackle.
But with the end of the legislative year fast approaching, inter-chamber gamesmanship is on the rise. It can start simple enough. A routine legislative procedure on the House floor.
Dear EarthTalk: What is “biomass” and why is it controversial as a potential source of energy?-- Edward White, New Bedford, MA
Biomass is plant matter that is burned as a source of energy. Fallen or cut wood that is burned for heat is one primary form of biomass, but another includes plant or animal matter that is converted into biofuels.
PSNH asked the Public Utilities Commission for a ten percent decrease in the price it charges for electricity. But any savings consumers might see would be eaten up by a simultaneous increase in the Stranded Cost Recovery charge.
The Berlin Daily Sun is reporting there will be a job fair in Berlin next Thursday (Nov. 10th) for the new biomass plant but the construction workers must either be union members or agree to temporarily pay union dues.
“The job fair is being held by the New Hampshire Building Trades Council which will be providing union workers for the construction of the facility,” the newspaper reported.