Community-Scale Goodness

By Anna Simet | May 30, 2013

The next issue of Biomass Magazine is themed small and community-scale biomass projects, and I have to admit, this is one of my favorite topics.

First and foremost, it’s because the people involved in these kinds of projects are so proud of what they have done. They’ve really put their heart into them, motivated by a couple of different factors, mostly to benefit others. Lowering energy costs, of course, but also the positive effects that reach beyond just saving a couple bucks. For example, that money saved on fuel costs might be money spent on hiring two new employees.

Additionally, switching to a fuel like wood pellets ensures that dollars spent on fuel is going back into the region’s economy, supporting local businesses and jobs.

In the case of Millinocket, Maine, the Millinocket Hospital Plant Operations Manager Dale McLaughlin spent years searching for a way to lower fuel costs for the hospital (he’s been working there for well over a decade). I had a conversation with him and the hospital’s CEO, Marie Vienneau, this week, during which they really emphasized how switching to wood pellets will help drive business for the region’s forest industry.

That was really important to them, because the town of Millinocket is located in a region that has  struggled in lieu of the paper industry depression (the economy is largely built on the forest products industry).  

I can definitely relate to their desire to drive business in and around their town. I’m actually from a very small town, and we small towners love our towns.  Even long after we’ve moved away.

Anyway, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that using local fuel drives local business, keeping people at work. The fact that wood pellets are cheaper and cleaner than heating oil—and renewable— is huge bonus.

Make sure to watch for the July issue, especially if you have a taste for the smaller, non-utility owned projects. You won’t be disappointed.