State Awards $2.9 million in Renewable Thermal Infrastructure Grants

13 Feb

The Baker-Polito Administration has awarded five grants totaling $2,889,285 to Massachusetts businesses to fund infrastructure projects to increase the availability of low-carbon, renewable heating fuels. The grants, funded by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), are part of the Renewable Thermal Infrastructure Grant Program, an initiative focused on expanding the availability of renewable thermal technologies in Massachusetts.

“Renewable heating is critical to reducing the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emissions and meeting our targets under the Global Warming Solutions Act,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Supporting these technologies is an investment in our local economies, the sustainability of our energy future, and expanding heating options to our residents and businesses.”

The grants were announced at a ceremony at Wagner Wood Products in Amherst on February 11th by Secretary Beaton and Commissioner Judson.

Grant awardees are required to match at least 50 percent of the project costs, which will result in approximately $6 million dollars of infrastructure upgrades across the Commonwealth. Three of the grants will help develop the infrastructure needed to produce and deliver dry wood chips, a new renewable fuel for the Massachusetts market.  Dry chips, with moisture content less than 30 percent, deliver more energy per ton with lower emissions than green chips.

Grants also were awarded to pay for testing of modern wood heating and emission control devices to meet current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards and for installation of a tank to blend eligible biofuels with conventional heating oils.

With updates to the Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS) regulations encouraging greater use of renewable thermal technologies, both residents and businesses in the Commonwealth are now able to earn incentives for meeting their heating needs with renewable energy.  New renewable thermal technologies eligible for the APS include air and ground-source heat pumps, modern wood heating, liquid biofuels, biogas and solar hot water.

“This program increases the availability of affordable, sustainable and locally sourced dried-wood fuel in the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Advancing infrastructure for access to this fuel is critical to facilitating sustainable and responsible land management across the Commonwealth and creating a clean energy future.”

“The infrastructure supported through this initiative reduces our reliance on conventional fossil fuels while lowering energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions across Massachusetts,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. “These heating technologies will have direct benefits to residents and businesses in the Commonwealth for years to come.”

The awarded grants will go to the following businesses:

Caluwe Inc. Burlington $426,035 To build a showroom storage warehouse in Western Massachusetts and purchase a service vehicle.   Also included in the project is the full testing and certification of several European wood chip boilers and related emission control devices to EPA and UL standards.
Dunlap’s Energy Plymouth $228,250 To build a mixing tank that precisely blends renewable biofuel with conventional heating fuels.
Holiday Farm Inc. Dalton $1,000,000 To purchase equipment to process, handle, store and deliver dried wood chips.  This project will include the purchase of two trucks able to pneumatically deliver dried woodchips.
Pantermehl Land Clearing Inc. Ashfield $350,000 To purchase a large format chipper, live-floor trailer and chip screen, to allow for the creation and bulk delivery of dried woodchips.  Also cost shared is a 65’ x 80’ chip storage building and accompanying asphalt pad.
Wagner Wood Amherst $885,000 To purchase the equipment to process, handle, store and deliver dried woodchips. This project will include the purchase of a chip trailer designed to pneumatically deliver dried woodchips into residential or commercial fuel storage silos.

In addition to the support that DOER is providing for the renewable heating supply chain infrastructure, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has recently expanded support for high-efficiency, low-emissions advanced wood heating systems in large buildings through its Modern Wood Heating Program, which offers grants up to $500,000 for qualifying projects. The MassCEC program offers an opportunity for municipal buildings and businesses to transition to fossil fuel free heating, which can deliver significant cost savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Funding for DOER’s Renewable Heating Infrastructure grants is available from Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP) paid by retail electric suppliers that did not meet their Alternative Portfolio Standard compliance obligations through the purchase of Alternative Energy Certificates.