N.H. Wood Energy Council commemorates county biomass system

By Glenn Rosenholm | November 03, 2016

The New Hampshire Wood Energy Council awarded the Rockingham County Complex for its commitment to modern wood energy during a National Bioenergy Day commemorative event, Oct. 19.

The first of two boilers for the district biomass heating facility went online in 2012. Prior to the system construction, the U.S. Forest Service Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry Wood Education and Resource Center provided a feasibility study and technical assistance for the design/build plan.

The engineering staff at the complex use the larger and smaller biomass boilers individually and separately to help the system meet varying heating demands throughout the year. The larger boiler has a maximum capacity of 6.7 million BTUs per hour, and the smaller one is rated for 3.3 million BTUs. Both systems use Hurst boilers and Messersmith combustors. Each system can generate steam up to 150 psi above atmospheric pressure.

The biomass system offsets of the equivalent of about 300,000 gallons of #2 fuel oil each year, providing a net reduction of more than 3,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.

The biomass system provides steam for heat piped 600 feet underground to three structures across the complex, including a 226-bed nursing home, a 362-bed jail and an administration building.

A $200,000 grant made available by the North Country Resource Conservation and Development Council and WERC served to improve the system’s performance and monitoring capabilities.

Jude Gates, the director of facilities, planning and IT for the county complex, said she is very satisfied with the system. “We really do love our biomass plant. We give tours, we show them our savings. Everyone likes it. We’re very happy with it. We saved $500,000 in our first year compared to burning oil.”

Several Northeastern Area employees and wood energy proponents toured the biomass energy facility and examined its components during the commemorative event.