Fleischmanns mulls wood chip heat for the village

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By Jay Braman Jr.
The Village of Fleischmanns is considering a plan to build a new central heating facility that could heat the entire village. Not just municipal buildings but homes and businesses too.
This Saturday, about two-dozen people from the village and members of the Catskill Forest Association (CFA) will visit the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT, where a new biomass heating plant is set to take on its first heating season.
A recent feasibility report was completed and found that a similar system is a viable option for the village and would save residents and businesses money over time. It would also stimulate economic development in the community, the report states.
Village Mayor Todd Pascarella said Monday that his interest in this is to be able to offer an incentive to entrepreneurs considering locating in the village. If, he said, energy costs are 50 percent lower in Fleischmanns than in other locations, that would be a huge draw.
“That is what we’re after with this,” he said.

Saves on costs, emissions
According to information provided by the Hotchkiss School, the system is expected to reduce the school’s carbon footprint by up to 45 percent and save the school more than half a million dollars a year in heating costs.
This winter the system will burn 5,400 tons of woodchips to run two large boilers to create steam heat for the school. It is expected that, during the coldest months, the system will burn about two dump truck loads of woodchips per day.
While that is lots of wood, engineers say it won’t amount to much smoke. Emissions, they say, will be mostly steam after technology removes 95 percent of particulate matter. The chimney is almost 50 feet high in order to release the emissions up into prevailing winds and keep ground level impacts to almost nothing.
So far, there is no money in the pipeline to actually build a system for Fleischmanns, Pascarella said. But he added that the plan is moving forward still at no cost to the village. The study was done with grant funding and Drexel University has now contacted the village and expressed interest in designing the system. Once completed, the design can then be used to come up with cost estimates.
Pascarella said that so far, only Montpelier, VT has done such a project in the United States. According to published reports, that city’s system serves Vermont state offices and some downtown businesses. That system cost $20 million.
In Europe, Pascarella said, these municipal heating systems are more commonplace.
Anyone interested in going on the tour Saturday should call 586-3054.