SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Pellet Boilers? Pellet Heat? Public Buildings? Your Home?
You Betcha

BySamuel Bergeron


June 13, 2011

The design team on the public library wanted about $80,000 to do a feasibility study on the viability of biomass wood pellet heat. That's like doing feasibility study on using propane heat or electricity. Biomass wood pellet heat is an established technology that has been in use in major metropolitan cities throughout the world for over 30 years with a stellar track record of clean burning emissions, low cost fuel, and great systems reliability. You don't need a feasibility study to see if this is a proven technology, just do the math.

I've enclosed a link that compares the different costs for the different readily available fuels including wood pellets. Then compare the installed cost of a wood pellet boiler vs. oil or electric and you're done with your very own feasibility study. When using the enclosed compare-fuel-costs calculator, you should use $300 a ton for pellets delivered to your site, just like oil or electricity. That's where the cost will come in at and probably, with more people using wood biomass and gaining an economy of scale, that price could come down.

Keep in mind that we have already maxed out the Swan-Tyee intertie and your electrical rates are projected to increase, mostly to spur conservation and to take away the financial incentive to convert to electric heat, not because we need the money for operations. KPU officials are encouraging conservation and heat conversions to wood biomass and other technologies other than electricity because we just don't have the hydro- power generation capacity. At today's cost of diesel fuel, it costs KPU 30 cents/KWH to produce electricity with diesel generators.

Wood pellet boilers need people to sell, install and maintain them. Wood pellets need to be shipped in, and then delivered to your site. Those are jobs that would be created here by using this technology.

The comparison of a pellet system at $300 a ton versus oil is the equivalent of $2.46/gallon heating oil. Heating oil today is $4.52 a gallon and projected to increase with additional demand and a dwindling supply. Let's see here: wood pellet heating fuel that costs 46% less than oil, lessens the demand on the electrical grid and creates jobs. Hmmm, should we do this? You betcha (sorry I couldn't resist that).

Samuel Bergeron
Ketchikan, AK

Related Link:

About: "I was the construction superintendent on the first commercial wood pellet boiler installation in Alaska last fall and winter in Juneau and I'm a convert to the wood pellet technology. I'm a life-long Alaskan and concerned citizen and a fiscal conservative. I've served on the City Council, Borough Assembly and KIC Tribal as Council President and as a Council Member. I currently hold a seat on the Planning Commission. "

Received June 12, 2011 - Published June 13, 2011


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska