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Dartmouth College Will Not Move Forward With Biomass Plant

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Dartmouth College has announced that it will not move forward with a plan to replace its current heating plant with one fueled by wood chips.

The college is looking at implementing a number of different renewable energy sources instead.

One of Dartmouth’s energy goals for the next several decades includes transitioning away from using No. 6 fuel oil to heat campus.

In 2019, the college had proposed building a plant that would burn wood chips to create that heat energy. That plan faced some pushback from community members and other scientists.

Josh Keniston is the vice president of campus services and institutional projects.

He says this decision isn’t a referendum on a particular energy source, and that the college is considering a variety of sources to produce heat, like heat pumps, geothermal energy and solar, instead of wholesale replacing its central heating plant.

“Everything has pros and cons and they all play a different role, and what we’re trying to do with our system is pick the right solution for the right deployment,” he said.

As far as a timeline goes to implement new energy sources, Keniston says there won’t be a dramatic shift to one particular source of energy anytime soon. 

“It’s likely that we're not going to, in five years, have a totally new system,” Keniston said. “I would predict that in five years we will see that the mix of energy sources is much more diverse than it is today.”

Dartmouth is moving forward with its steam-to-hot water distribution system conversion and focusing on energy efficiency upgrades in its buildings.

“To the extent that we can just lower our consumption and have a more efficient campus, that will help us regardless of what our [energy] source is,” he said.

Daniela is an editor in NHPR's newsroom. She leads NHPR's Spanish language news initiative, ¿Qué Hay de Nuevo, New Hampshire? and the station's climate change reporting project, By Degrees. You can email her at

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