Perryville High School to unveil new biomass boiler

Thursday, October 27, 2011

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- Perryville High School will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. today for a cutting-edge woody biomass boiler, funded by a grant of federal stimulus dollars intended to save money and increase jobs.

The Fuels for Schools project benefits local communities, the environment, the forest products industry and schools, said Lisa Allen, forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The boilers built by the project are fueled by woody material felled in logging and maintenance operations that would usually go to waste, such as trees smaller than 12 inches in diameter. New jobs for the forest products industry are expected as demands increase for production and delivery of wood debris.

Participating schools are projected to see savings in heating and cooling costs that can be put back into school budgets, Allen said.

Job growth in Missouri has already been reported, said John Tuttle, forest management chief for the Department of Conservation. In the second quarter of 2011, people were at work in the equivalent of 43 full-time jobs associated with Fuels for Schools projects statewide, surpassing the goal of 30.

Allen said conservationists are excited by the possibility of better use of local, sustainable natural resources for heating and cooling. Strengthening the market for forest products could also increase thinning and improve maintenance and health of Missouri's 15 million acres of forest, Allen said.

Tuttle was instrumental in getting the state involved with Fuels for Schools, which ultimately granted Missouri $6 million. Selection focused on schools in the Ozarks area where the forest products industry is critical to the local economy. Six of 13 applicants were awarded funding: Perry County, Gainesville, Mountain View-Birch Tree, Eminence, southern Reynolds County and Steelville.

The largest project in the state is the boiler at Perryville High School, which will heat both of the school's buildings.

Saving thousands

Superintendent Kevin Dunn of Perry County schools said the district received more than $1 million in funding and he hopes to see $25,000 to $30,000 in savings per year compared to cost of the high school's existing natural gas system. Besides the yearly savings, the school was spared the expense of replacing outdated equipment in the original 1938 structure.

The manufacturer will train school personnel next week, and the boiler should be fully online by Nov. 15. Upkeep of the computerized system is expected to be minor and will be handled by the school's maintenance crew.

Dunn received some initial calls concerned about air pollution but said that because of the new technology, most of what is emitted from the boiler is water vapor.

Lew McCreery, northeastern area woody biomass coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service, said one principal reported improved attendance and less illness, possibly due to better ventilation and air quality from their new system.

The money for the project, a small part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, is "going to good use." Dunn said. "I'm excited to get the training and get it fired up."

salderman@semissourian.com

388-3648

Pertinent address:

326 College St., Perryville, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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