Interior Alaska villages making plans to increase biomass use 

By Molly Rettig of the Fairbanks Daily News Miner: Some Interior villages are already sold on biomass. Community leaders shared how they harvest energy from the forests and rivers around them with roughly 200 attendees at the Alaska Wood Energy Conference on Wednesday.

“We are a rural community that wants to promote to other rural communities that this can be done,” Tanana city manager Bear Ketzler said.

The three-day event focused on various fuel types, technologies, environmental impacts and supply issues associated with wood energy.

The Tok School installed a wood chip-fired boiler in November that is fueled by local forest thinning projects and waste wood. Project leaders described the purpose and performance of the 5.5-million BTU steam boiler.

“It’s been pure savings,” said Scott MacManus, executive director for the Alaska Gateway School District.

The system should offset 65,000 gallons of heating fuel per year, saving $268,450. It was inspired by skyrocketing energy costs. The school district was spending $300,000 per year on heat and power and was forced to sacrifice music, art and other elective programs.

“This is why we’re involved in the wood business right now, because we have to do something to maintain the quality of education,” MacManus said. Read more

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