CVU's wood chip boiler chugs along through wintry weather

Although Proulx said the maintenance crew did have to work throughout the week, he was able to monitor the heating system and control the temperature at CVU in the evenings from anywhere that has Internet access. Its better than driving in like I used to do at night, said Proulx. Besides being online, the heating system at CVU, a wood-chip boiler, is also saving the school money for every cold day this winter. The boiler, installed last October 2005, managed to save the district $70,000 in fuel costs last year during a relatively mild winter compared to this year. The savings of last year was actually close to the same amount as what the school paid to install the wood-chip boiler, with the the state picking up about 90 percent of the total cost. And this year, it looks like the school will be saving even more money in fuel costs, said Proulx, starting the boiler two months earlier than the previous year and already burning more wood chips. The wood chips are bought from A Johnson Lumber in Bristol, and are delivered on a weekly basis. The chips are the waste product from the lumber cut at the mill, and Proulx said that they are a very clean product that school is able to buy relatively cheaply. The wood chips are stored in a 40 ton hopper that holds up to two truckloads worth of chips. One truckload, said Proulx will be burned every four days to a week, depending on the weather. The school pays $700 per truckload of woodchips. Comparatively, Proulx estimated that in weather such as weve been having, the school would burn about 350 gallons of fuel oil a day, at roughly $150 per gallon, or about $630 a day for heating, compared to $700 per week with the wood-chip boiler. CVU is not alone in their heating system, with several other schools heading in that direction, such as South Burlington, said Proulx. Other schools that have a similar heating system in place include Barre City School, Mt. Abe and Hartford schools. Proulx said CVUs decision to install the heating system moved quickly after the issue was brought up at a facilities team meeting. They were looking for ways to save money for tax payers, he said, and between researching other schools heating and an engineer that was pro wood-chip, the idea took off from there. During last weeks blizzard and the snow days that followed, Proulx said the wood-chip boiler, chugged along like it always does. He added that if for some reason the boiler were to shut down, the school has a back up fuel oil boiler that would recognize the change and start up soon afterward.

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