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    Author(s): Richard Bergman; Timothy M. Maker
    Date: 2007
    Source: General Technical Report FPL-GTR-173. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 21 pages.
    Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
    Station: Forest Products Laboratory
    PDF: Download Publication  (917 KB)


    To reduce the risk of catastrophic fires, the USDA Forest Service and its partners are developing practical, economic uses for forest thinnings from National Forests and state and private lands in western states. Because mechanical thinning is costly, developing markets for removed wood as fuel for community energy applications is one way to support the economics of forest management while saving money for communities. By installing a wood heating system in the public schools in Darby, Montana, the Fuels for Schools Program is demonstrating the potential of putting low quality wood residues to practical use in a rural forest based community. The wood-fired heating system installed in Darby Schools replaced three separate oil-fired systems and saved the school district $24,500 of total fuel costs for the 2003–2004 year. Because of higher fuel oil prices, total fuel cost savings increased to $61,500 in the 2004–2005 heating season. Heating fuel costs were reduced from $0.63 per ft2 per year (last full oil heating season) to $0.36 and $0.35 per ft2 per year for the 2003–04 and 2004–05 heating seasons. Adjusting for heating degree days (HDD) for the respective heating seasons, the corresponding seasonal fuel costs in $/thousand ft2/HDD were reduced from 0.068 in 2002–2003 to 0.040, and to 0.040 in the 2003–2004 and 2004–2005 heating seasons, respectively. In an analysis to show actual costs for a school, we found a payback period of 9.8 years based on 2004–2005 heating fuel values. The project life was for 20 years, and a desired discount rate of 8.0% was specified for determining the before tax net present value.

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    Bergman, Richard; Maker, Timothy M. 2007. Fuels for schools: case study in Darby, Montana. General Technical Report FPL-GTR-173. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 21 pages.


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    Wood chips, Darby, Montana, forest residue, school campus wood heating system, FFS, Fuels for Schools, biomass energy industries, case studies, public schools, heating, ventilation, forest management, forest policy

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