Wood pellets keep state workers warm

Three agency HQs share new biomass boiler in Ray Brook

State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 5 Director Bob Stegemann, left, talks to fellow Adirondack Park Agency board members and other meeting attendees in November 2019 about a biomass heating system, with a 45-ton pellet silo behind them, which is being used to heat the DEC, APA and New York State Police buildings in Ray Brook. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

RAY BROOK — For the first winter, a biomass fuel plant is heating three agency headquarters in a pilot run of this emerging technology.

A 45-ton pellet storage silo stands in the back parking lot between three state agency headquarters: the Adirondack Park Agency, Department of Environmental Conservation Region 5 and New York State Police Troop B. The silo is painted green to blend in with the evergreen trees surrounding it so it does not stand out in the eyes of people driving by on state Route 86. A building connected to the silo will be an observation area for educating people about how the system works, as it is a trial run for the state.

APA board members, at their meeting last week, got an up-close look at the heating system, inside and out. The board members were excited by the project and said they hope it can be used to inspire others to convert to biomass heating as well.

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is reportedly thinking about switching to biomass for its prison buildings, and is looking at how this project works out before it goes ahead, according to DEC Region 5 Director Bob Stegemann. He said other states and other organizations are also looking to the project to see if they should follow suit.

The building contains three boilers — one for each building — which burn the wood pellets to create heat without using fossil fuels. The $2.8 million project was a collaboration between the DEC, APA, State Police, New York Power Authority and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Inside the biomass heating building, three boilers turn wood pellets into heat for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Adirondack Park Agency and State Police buildings in Ray Brook. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

Stegemann said the project ties into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s energy conservation efforts. The boilers are estimated to reduce 391 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, around 80 cars’ worth annually.

All the pellets come from the Adirondack area, Stegemann said, and the buildings still have backup boilers for the coldest of days. Since each building is a different size and has different hearing requirements, there are three separate systems housed in the building.


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