The town of Chester is looking at installing a new wood pellet heating system in late September or early October at the Municipal Center on Route 9.
Chester’s 1930s-era building currently uses oil to fuel its boilers in a steam heating system, so when the town wanted to switch to wood pellets, a unique project was born. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is using it as a demonstration project for the rest of the state and is funding the bulk of the cost.
Wood pellet heating system is generally used to heat, store and circulate water. A steam system is pressurized and requires unique integration, controls and thermal storage to maximize efficiency.
The project also led to state legislation that officials say will make it easier for municipalities to bond for such projects, meaning more Adirondack towns may opt to heat their buildings with wood. The legislation specifically amends Local Finance Law to say that the probable usefulness of the installation or reconstruction of a heating system in a municipal building is 15 years instead of 10 years.
The bill passed the Assembly and Senate and is awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.
Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, sponsored the measure in the Senate, and Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, sponsored it in the Assembly along with another sponsor at the request of Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe and the Town Board. It was also supported by the New York Biomass Energy Alliance.
The conversion to wood pellets is expected to save the town $18,000 to $19,000 annually on heating costs. The town won grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and U.S. Department of Agriculture for the project.
“We need approval from the USDA to bid out installation, and we need to contract with NYSERDA for the demonstration project,” Monroe said at a recent Town Board meeting. “Our consultant is working on both of those.”
The boiler should arrive next month.
In May, Monroe said the town budgeted $25,000 for the project and hopes to use about $40,000 from timber harvest proceeds. That town was approved to borrow $187,000 for it, but Monroe estimated the town would need much less — maybe $110,000.
The price was estimated at $400,000 to $450,000, with 75 percent (up to $300,000) funded by NYSERDA. The town will also use $20,000 from a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.