Heating the Northeast with Renewable Biomass


Roughly 30% of the energy used in the U.S. is for heating and cooling, and a large proportion of the energy used for heat comes from burning oil. While using renewables to generate electricity and solve transportation issues (the other 70% of the equation) receives the lion’s share of attention from policymakers, the organizers of the first “Heating the Northeast with Renewable Biomass” conference that took place in Nashua, NH, are hoping to change that.

Opening the conference was a keynote by New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, who said that New Hampshire is a good place to focus on renewable biomass for heat.  The region is comprised of 84% growing forest and therefore biomass is in large supply.

Photo Credit:Graham Jesmer

Neibling also unveiled the Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC), a new organization that will work in Washington, DC to bring awareness about and favorable policy for biomass thermal energy.

William Straus, President of FutureMetrics, a firm that performs economic modeling and forecasting, explained that just in the state of Maine, 80% of the homes heat with oil.  That adds up to more than $1 billion dollars annually spent on oil with a large proportion of that money going overseas.   If you look at the entire Northeast, which includes New England and New York, the number is $13.7 billion annually – all money that is traveling out of the region.

Straus showed a model of a hypothetical scenario in which 1% of the homes in the Northeast converted to biomass thermal heating systems each year for 10 years, with local or federal governments offering a $6,000 tax credit (roughly the difference between a new high-end oil furnace and a pellet furnace).  In 10 years time, he explained, the government would be looking at a net benefit to the treasury of approximately $7.1 billion in increased tax revenue and more than one-hundred thousand new jobs.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 23rd June 2009


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