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Goddard College's $2.5M Woodchip Boiler Up & Running After Years Of Local Pushback

Goddard College's new woodchip boiler brings wood chips up from the basement on a conveyer belt.
Emily Corwin
/
VPR
Goddard College's new woodchip boiler brings wood chips up from the basement on a conveyer belt.

A new woodchip boiler plant at Goddard College in Plainfield is now in operation. The new system will carry hot water underground to 22 buildings across campus — replacing at least as many oil-burning boilers.

The new $2.5 million boiler provides 3 million Btu and displaces roughly 50,000 gallons of oil. The project took 14 years to come to fruition, in part due to opposition from nearby residents fearing possible air pollution.

Barry Bernstein is an owner of the local wood boiler distributor Better World Energy LLC. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, Bernstein said larger-scale biomass projects like Goddard’s and those at National Life and Norwich University are good ways to reduce Vermont’s dependence on fossil fuel.

“Commercial and industrial woodchip heating systems can really displace a lot at a time,” he said. And while he praised the spread of residential woodchip heating as well, Bernstein said larger projects are “where the big, quick, fast buck will take place.”

Vermont has a statewide goal of meeting 35 percent of the state’s heating demand with wood heat by the year 2030.

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