With the help of the Green Heat Initiative, School District 27 will proceed with the construction of a pellet boiler at Alexis Creek school this fall and has approved a pellet boiler for Tatla Lake school.
The initiative, funded by Community Futures, the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition, the South Cariboo Beetle Action Coalition and the Mountain Pine Beetle Response Division, provides education and outreach — not financing — to businesses and institutions looking to take advantage of biomass heating.
It has provided input to the district on the two projects aimed at decreasing heating costs and lowering the district’s carbon emissions.
Dave Dubois, Green Heat Initiative project co-ordinator, estimates biomass fuels like wood pellets cost on average one third to one half that of propane, for example.
Wood pellets are also considered carbon neutral and therefore districts don’t have to purchase carbon offsets for using them under the province’s carbon neutral scheme.
A further benefit to biomass is that for the most part it can be sourced locally and therefore it assists in the developing and sustaining the local economy.
“It’s putting money back into the economy, whereas with a lot of the traditional fossil fuels a lot of that money ends up leaving the economy. … Biomass comes from the local forests so you’re paying local harvesters, local contractors and truckers so there’s pretty significant returns to the community,” Dubois says.
Dubois points to the Quesnel School District as a success story. One school in that district spent $40,000 on propane a year; when the district installed a wood pellet boiler heating costs were reduced to $6,000 per year.