BIOMASS DAY planned at Vermont Wood Pellet Mill in North Clarendon.
Saturday, January 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Middlebury/North Clarendon—Vermont Wood Pellet (VWP) will host a Biomass Day at their mill in North Clarendon, VT on Saturday, January 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with support from Acorn Energy Co-op and others. As temperatures drop and oil prices rise, more people are looking at heating with biomass. This day addresses the advantages of heating with the state’s only local wood pellets and more.
This free event will showcase a full spectrum of biomass heating and storage options available through local businesses on hand at the mill for the day. Biomass Day is an opportunity to speak directly with local biomass equipment installers, including Biomass Commodities, E.C Crosby’s, Pellergy, SunWood Biomass Systems, Vermont Renewable Fuels, and Woodpecker Pellet Furnace.
It will also address current reports on biomass standards and incentives and feature a demonstration on how to make biochar from wood scraps.
“The majority of the wood is harvested within only 30 miles of the plant and all of it within 75 to 100 miles,” explains VWP owner Chris Brooks. “We use biomass energy to run the mill to make pellets which are sold locally to strengthen Vermont’s economy. It’s a great example of what it means to heat local.”
Biomass Day will cover considerations and costs with regard to selecting equipment to replace or augment traditional oil or propane heaters and address the pros and cons of different wood and biomass sources, such as softwood, hardwood, or grass, used in making pellets. Attendees can receive tips on improving stove and furnace performance and correct pellet bag handling and storage. Empty plastic wood pellet bags can be dropped off for recycling.
“High Efficiency clean burning biomass equipment with a long service life means you’ll get the most BTU in heat and save the most in fuel costs when carefully choosing the appropriate biomass technology.” says David Frank of SunWood Biomass. “We will be glad to help you select and budget for a system that will move you to greater energy independence.”
Advice on bulk storage options to eliminate bags will be provided by Pellergy, which makes inserts to convert oil burners to biomass burners, and by Acorn Energy Co-op, which has been researching and testing bulk storage containers and delivery with a contract from the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. Acorn Energy Co-op will also share its latest discount offers to make renewable energy affordable through its many partners and affiliates.
“We advise people to do all they can to improve the efficiency of their buildings first through weatherizing and conserving as much energy as possible before selecting their renewable energy system so that it will be sized properly,” says Greg Pahl, Acorn Energy Co-op board president and author of several books published by Chelsea Green Press on renewable energy, including natural heat options. “The co-op offers advice that can save its members up to a $1,000 on renewable energy systems.”
Keeping Vermont’s biomass local and harvested in sustainable ways has been the subject of studies by several organizations. Their reports will be available for discussion. VWP checks with landowners to ensure that an appropriate forest management plan is in place before purchasing softwood feedstock for its pellets.
“We intend to keep Vermont’s wood local and in service to those in need within our region,” Chris Brooks emphasized. “We donated proceeds of our pellets sold by Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op by arrangement with Acorn Energy Co-op to Vermont’s Shareheat fuel assistance program and have been part of a program to supply four tons of pellets at no charge to an energy efficient home built by Habitat for Humanity in Vermont.”
VWP supports the production of biochar from its wood scraps. The making of biochar from wood scraps used in the manufacturing and burning of biomass has been recommended as an excellent soil enhancer to dramatically boost plant growth. Biochar also sequesters carbon.
“It is relatively easy to make and apply biochar,” says Biochar Northeast member John McLaughlin, who will demonstrate the procedure outside the mill. “Biochar Northeast is a non-profit which promotes the ethical use and manufacture of biochar, a high temperature charcoal intended as a soil supplement. Biochar in the soil helps retain moisture, retain soil nutrients and promotes microbial activity which makes these nutrients available to plants.”
The mill will be in operation so attendees can tour the process for making a superior quality wood pellet. VWP will provide refreshments and offer a half ton of pellets as a door prize in appreciation to its customers and attendees. Additional special offers or door prizes may be provided by other vendors on exhibit this day.
VWP tested local wood pellet production in 2007 and began selling pellets in 2009. It aims to produce 10,000 to 15,000 tons of pellets annually. Acorn Energy Co-op began operations in 2008 to help area residents transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy by supporting local fuel production and negotiating discounts on energy products and services from the area's providers. It works with others, including Efficiency Vermont, Renewable Energy Vermont and Addison County Regional Planning Commission, to educate on energy options through a monthly program of workshops and tours. The co-op maintains a regularly updated energy resource directory and listing of energy related events on its website (www.acornenergycoop.com)
To get to Biomass Day from Middlebury and Rutland, take Route 7 South to Route 103 South, and then immediately right onto Route 7B. Mill is on right at 1105 Route 7B. For info, call VWP at 747-1093 or Acorn Energy Co-op at 385-1911.