Wood boiler saving school district money

SARANAC LAKE – A high-efficiency wood pellet boiler installed last year at Petrova Elementary and the Saranac Lake Middle School is saving the Saranac Lake Central School District thousands of dollars on heating costs.

Dan Bower, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, outlined the cost savings to the school board at its Wednesday night meeting, using figures he was provided by Lee Daunais, the district’s facilities director.

Bower said it cost $24,966 to heat the building with 8,002 gallons of fuel oil during the month of December 2011. In December 2012, the district used 35 tons of wood pellets to heat the building, which cost $6,475, and only had to use 1,500 gallons of fuel oil, which cost $5,085. That means the district saved $13,406 in heating costs for just that period alone, which Bower called “excellent news.”

“That’s tremendous,” said board member Esther Arlan.

The wood pellet boiler system went online in January 2012. It’s set up in an enclosed area outside of the building, near the gym, and is attached to a silo that stores the pellets.

The system cost the district about half a million dollars, with all but roughly $100,000 coming from a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant. The district received about 50 percent in state aid for its local share, meaning the system ultimately cost about $50,000 in local funds.

Bower said the wood pellet boiler may not be the only reason why the district is saving money heating the Petrova building. New windows were installed throughout the building last year.

“It’s probably a combination of those things,” he said.