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NH Energy Project Provides Benefits

Fri, August 22, 2014 | Hurst Boiler

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NH BIOMASS DISTRICT ENERGY PROJECT PROVIDES IMMEDIATE ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS

Perseverance was the key for Sullivan County’s District Energy biomass project.  It was more than worth the wait. 

Sullivan County had been interested in utilizing biomass for quite some time in order to reduce reliance on foreign fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions. After much research by Facilities Director John Cressy and his team, the County purchased a Hurst biomass boiler district heating system with a backpressure steam turbine/generator to serve the County’s nursing home, office and prison complex in Unity, New Hampshire. 

According to Cressy, there was an initiative and a feasibility study for a biomass project in progress when he arrived 5 years ago; however it did not meet Sullivan County’s expectations and the entire project was shelved.  Then the Wood Education and Resource Center stepped in and offered to do a new feasibility study.  “The study blew our minds,” he said.  “The numbers looked almost too good to be true.”  

In the meantime, Cressy was busy researching biomass boilers for the project, looking at almost 2 dozen plants to see what they were using.  “I ran into a Hurst competitor at the Northeast Biomass Conference 2 years ago and was shown some of his equipment. We liked the concept and robust nature of the “walking floor” so I specified it in our bid package. The equipment specified by the winning bidder turned out to be Hurst equipment.  I hadn’t even heard of Hurst; but after learning what I did, I was delighted that they were central to our project.”   

Sullivan County built a new 3000 sq ft building for the project.  The new biomass system provides space heating, hot water heating, power to steam dryers and to the kitchen.  “90% of our fuel load has replaced fossil fuels,” Cressy said.   

Bob Waller and his company, Thermal Systems Inc., the authorized Hurst Boiler representative serving Maine, New Hampshire and the surrounding areas, coordinated and performed all specification and procurement services for the project.  Waller and TSI oversaw the development of the equipment specifications, the equipment arrangement design, and the procurement of the components necessary to meet the requirements of the county initiative.

“Even though it’s still a new system, I’m very pleased with the Hurst equipment,” Cressy said. “It’s robust, which is important in New Hampshire, as we put heating systems through a lot up here.”

The Hurst equipment utilized in the project included:

  • Hurst Biomass Boiler - 5.0MMBtu/hr, 150 psi, Hybrid Design
  • Hurst Fuel Reclamation System - custom engineered to encompass a nine (9) tree reciprocating floor - this was a complex challenge requiring specialized construction designed to take into account the entirely unique natural terrain of the site, and the 15 foot elevation discrepancy between the material handling and storage areas of the boiler room
  • Hurst ‘Oximizer’ Deaerator - with a duplex pump set
  • Hurst Propane Package Boiler -80 hp, 150 psi

The $3.4 million project was funded in part through several grants totaling $675,000 in addition to a tax-exempt bond through a local bank.  Due to the recent Renewable Energy incentives now available to the marketplace, the Sullivan County Unity District CHP Energy Project was able to secure the following grants:

  • North Country RC&D Grant  >$75,000 awarded 
  • US Forest Service – Forest Products Laboratory  >$250,000 awarded 
  • NH Public Utilities Commission – Commercial & Industrial Thermal or Electric Renewable Energy Project Grant  >$300,000 awarded 

So far, the benefits of the biomass system have exceeded expectations.  In just the first 4 months of operation since December 2013, the county realized a 20% savings out of its $500,000 annual fuel budget, and the County expects that the annual fuel savings will pay for the construction bond within 15 years.   With the sale of energy credits, the County expects to receive a minimum of $75,000/year of offsetting revenue. 

In addition, the project allows all those energy dollars to stay in the local economy. Inspired by the success of this project, Cressy has been working on educational outreach within the county about the benefits of biomass energy.  “One of the most important parts of this biomass initiative is building public awareness of the benefits of lessening dependence on fossil and foreign fuels, thus putting more dollars into the local economy,” he said.   Cressy added that most of the woodchips used for fuel are found within a 5 mile radius of the county complex.

Cressy is very pleased with both the Hurst equipment and follow up service provided. “Hurst always has said their goal is for us to be happy customers. And we are.”