by Lisa Stinson – Community Journalist
HARDWICK – This winter, when the winds start howling and the temperatures drop to 20 or 30 below, Craftsbury Academy will be toasty warm – and will be reducing their carbon heating footprint at the same time. Thanks to four new pellet boilers from Maine Energy Systems installed over the course of the last year, Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union (OSSU) is offsetting a significant amount of fossil fuel, using renewable wood pellets, reducing maintenance costs, and supporting local forest industries.
Asked about the pellet heating system, OSSU facilities director Joe Houston commented, “One of the many benefits of running a pellet heating system is price stability. So, while we’re increasing our fuel economy, we’re also better able to budget our heating dollars and save the public money in the long run.”
Houston recently gave a tour of the Craftsbury Academy pellet system to Korey Morgan with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The USFS has now produced a video as part of Forest Products Week 2023 explaining the benefits of biomass heating systems, with a Craftsbury Academy mention, that can be viewed at youtube.com/watch?v=x7LfmDaxssk.
Along for the tour were representatives from the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation who, along with the Vermont Public Service Department and Efficiency Vermont, have provided over $450,000 in grant funds to support pellet boiler installations at Craftsbury Academy and Hardwick Elementary. While Craftsbury’s boilers are fully up and running right now, Hardwick’s installation is still in progress and due to be fully operational for the winter of 2024-25.