Today we are on the Council Ranger District of the Payette National Forest outside of Council, Idaho. The material that is being generated on this treatment project, much of this material is being taken to the fuels for schools project where the local high school and elementary school is being heated with wood chips. We had a fifty year old elementary and a fourty five year old high school. And the HVAC systems basically had worn out and they were very expensive to operate and so we had to do something.
And this seemed like the perfect opportunity. We’re surrounded on three sides by the Payette National Forest so it made sense that we would use wood if possible. So I met with the Forest Service, they were on board, very supportive of it. In the summer of 2005, we put in a boiler building. And gutted the two buildings as far as their HVAC systems. We went with a heat pump system. And the heat pumps would pull out the air conditioning. And so it was a great system for us. Part of that, we had no fresh air in the buildings, the heating was sporatic, we had electric heat in our secondary which was very hot in some places and cold in others. And the elementary had an old oil boiler. Which was inefficient and very expensive to operate. We were spending about twenty five thousand dollars a year alone on fuel oil for that building. The biomass unit also allows us to have air conditioning in our school. It allows us to start school with time in August. The biomass plant heats our high school. Our elementary school. The greenhouses and also our shop. This allows students to have a very comfortable working environment year round and we are so fortunate. The chip storage over here holds about twenty five tons. This is a walking auger and it puts it on the conveyor belt into a hopper and it’s fed into the fire box. Right now the fire box is working, and we’re using about, I would say any where from one to two ton of chip per day, it’s not too cold. We’re in our eigth year of operation now. And we’ve finally got it to where we want.
It. We save quite a bit of money. We eventually added greenhouses that we could heat with the biomass which we could grow native plants. And so it’s also helped the airshed because now they are no longer burning it out in the fields. And that’s a pretty inefficient way of dealing with it. And so it seemed just like a very very natural thing for us to look at wood and to put in a system like that. You know, the cost savings have been there. If you look back eight years, we’ve probably saved probably in the neighboorhood of half.