Ground broken for biomass heater at state offices

RAY BROOK — Numerous state and local officials were on hand Tuesday as several state agencies took part in the ceremonial groundbreaking for a biomass heating system that will be built for the state office complex in Ray Brook.

Local officials, along with state Adirondack Park Agency, Department of Environmental Conservation and New York Power Authority employees, gathered behind the DEC Region 5 headquarters at the future site of a system that will use wood pellets to heat the DEC, APA and New York State Police Troop B headquarters.

The project was originally proposed three years ago, and the APA gave it final approval last November. In addition to providing environmentally friendly heat, the biomass heater will also serve as a public education center.

Stephanie Ratcliff, executive director of the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, said her museum’s biomass heater saved $30,000 in heating expenses the first year it was in place.

The heater will be fired by wood pellets, with the idea that the demand created by the state’s biomass heater could lead to a local source of fuel being developed. Biomass heaters are highly efficient and have lower emissions than other sources of heat, and since the heater will use wood products for fuel, the fuel sources can be regrown.

The New York Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) put $300,000 toward the cost of construction, with the rest to be split by the DEC, APA and State Police.

The new heater will be built in the back of the parking lot on land that is classified for state administrative use. The building to house the heating system will be about 660 square feet in area, and a 35-foot-tall silo will be constructed to hold the biomass material. The silo is slightly scaled back from the original proposal and would need to be filled about every three weeks.

The New York Power Authority was the applicant, but a memorandum of understanding places responsibility for the project with the DEC.


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