Skeena Energy Solutions coordinator Greg Horne is developing a proposal to heat three Hazelton schools using waste wood from sawmills as fuel for biomass boilers.

Waste wood heating plan for schools

Three schools could be heated using waste wood from sawmills under a biomass energy plan for the Hazeltons

Major public infrastructure in the Hazeltons could be heated using waste wood from sawmills under a new biomass energy plan.

Skeena Energy Solutions (SES), which is part of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, is developing a proposal to install a biomass boiler at three Hazelton schools.

SES coordinator Greg Horne said buildings in the Hazeltons were currently heated with either propane or heating oil because there is no access to natural gas, which is cleaner and less expensive.

Inspired by a similar system that heats eight buildings in Telkwa, including the village office, SES commissioned Smithers company Wunderlin Consulting to conduct a feasibility study into whether biomass boilers could be beneficial to the Hazeltons.

The study identified the New Hazelton Elementary School, Hazelton Secondary School and the Gitksan Wet’suwet’en Education Society as the buildings best suited to the biomass system.

Although none of the schools have signed on with the project at this stage, SES hopes consultations over the winter months will lead to commitments.

Fuelled by wood chips cut from lumber waste, which is currently burnt away in piles by the mills, the biomass boilers heat water.

The hot water then warms the respective building as it travels through insulated pipes.

Horne said the Telkwa project had proven the biomass boiler system was cheaper than using natural gas.

He said it would also reduce C02 emissions by replacing dirtier fuels like propane with a waste material.

“These boilers are really clean burning, so compared to a conventional wood stove in a house, a certified RSF wood stove, they are 40-50 times cleaner burning,” he said.

“All of that carbon emission (from burning waste at saw mills) is going into the atmosphere anyway.

“We are essentially saying, ‘Why don’t we just capture all of this stuff that is already being burned and use it?’”

“Right now it is being wasted.”

According to the study, installing a biomass boiler would cost between $200,000 and $500,000 but it would reduce heating costs by 80 to 90 per cent.

“(For example) instead of $100,000 worth of propane it would be between $10,000 to $20,000 worth of wood chips,” he said.

“Those $10,000 to $20,000 would go to the local sawmills and the local people to chip up and deliver those wood chips so that money stays in the local community.”

Under the plan, schools could pay off the installation of the system in five to seven years.

Horne said there was no risk of the wood supply running out because the waste wood from one local sawmill would generate enough power to heat six major buildings.

“As long as the sawmill operates for 20 or 30 years, which would probably be the lifespan of the system, it would work,” he said.

Details about how and where the chips would be cut and who would transport them have not been finalized but Horne said local sawmills had been responsive to the plan, partly because it would reduce the need for them to buy permits to burn the wood.


Just Posted

Bigger and safer bridge to be built across the Nass

New two-lane bridge will be safer and be able to accommodate heavier commercial vehicles.

BVSD 54 superintendent responds to video threat

BVSD 54 sent out letter to parents after Smithers RCMP investigated threatening video posted online.

Snowfall warning in effect

A snowfall warning for the Bulkley Valley and Lakes District is in effect with high winds.

B.C.’s resident sustenance hunters pushed aside for trophy hunt

Northwest Fish Wildlife Conservation Association says new proposed regulation hurts moose population

Students survey Smithers on plastic use

How many plastic bags do you have stuffed in your closets and drawers at home?

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

McMaster out, Bolton in as Trump’s national security adviser

President Donald is replacing National security adviser H.R. McMaster with John Bolton

Two killed, dozen hurt in French supermarket hostage-taking

French counterterrorism prosecutors are taking charge of the investigation into the shooting of a police officer in southern France

Canadian women move to No. 4 in FIFA world rankings

Canadian women match all-time high, move back to No. 4 in FIFA world rankings

Supreme Court rules former Stephen Harper aide guilty of influence peddling

A one-time senior aide to former prime minister Stephen Harper has been found guilty of influence peddling by Canada’s highest court.

Annual inflation rate rises to 2.2% for its fastest pace since fall 2014

Statistics Canada says the consumer price index in February was up 2.2 per cent compared with a year ago

B.C. drug smuggler pleads guilty in U.S. court

Shuswap man admits to using helicopters to transport marijuana and cocaine across the border

Canucks find scoring touch in 5-2 win over Blackhawks

Four Vancouver skaters have two points apiece in victory over Chicago

Most Read