Giving Matters: Making Renewable Energy Affordable
The Northern Forest Center helps create economic opportunity and community vitality from healthy working forests.
David Benckendorf participated in the Center’s Model Neighborhood Project, and was one of 40 homeowners who purchased and installed a wood pellet boiler with the center’s help. “there were a lot of advantages to it and it really peaked my interest.” He eventually converted his oil furnace to a wood pellet boiler.
The way he sees it, homeowners are penned in by their familiarity with oil, “we know what heating with oil is, we’re used to that.” Overcoming those hesitations can be daunting, but as Benkendorf explains it there are many upsides. “If I look out the windows into my backyard or anywhere when I’m traveling around the north country, I see lots of trees. And I’ve lived here for several years now and I have yet to see an oil derek. It’s a change that not only makes sense environmentally and financially, but I Also know that we’re not likely to run out up here.”
And now having the pellet boiler in the house is just a part of the landscape for he and his wife, “every night at 8pm, it will suck a load of pellets from the hopper, so we can hear than for about two or three minutes and then its ready to go and it’s a very quiet system.”
“The Northern Forest Center’s program made it more affordable and in our case the payback periods is about three and a half years. That means, since we did it in 2012, by 2015 it’s paid for.”
According to NFC, the 620 tons of pellets purchased through the project thus far translates into nearly 74,000 gallons of oil displaced and nearly $120,000 in savings for Berlin homeowners and nonprofits. It also retains $265,000 in the regional economy.