August 14, 2013

Pellet Heating System Heats Maine Hospital

Dale McLaughlin has continually researched and pursued different heating options that might be a good fit for the Millinocket Regional Hospital, with the ultimate goal of replacing expensive heating oil.

Besides getting rid of heating oil, there were a couple of additional motivators—the desire to keep dollars spent on fuel at home, and to switch to something more environmentally sound.

Recently the MRH brought on line a wood pellet-fired heating system, it’s the first to come on line in a U.S. hospital.

Exploring Options

When the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act made Wood-2-Energy grants available through the USDA Forest Service, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for MRH.

The ARRA grants totaled $11 million, used to convert 37 buildings from oil to wood heat. In all, the projects will annually displace more than 900,000 gallons of fuel oil, according to Peter Beringer of the Maine Forest Service.  The project at MRH is predicted to displace nearly 80,000 gallons of fuel annually, saving the facility $149,000 each year.

According to the CEO, it took about three months to finish, and getting it done smoothly in a busy hospital setting wasn’t a problem. “It was pretty seamless, we already had the valves needed for the biomass boiler in place, so there was no shut-down time.”
MRH, as well as Northern Maine Medical Center, which brought a pellet heating system on line shortly after MRH, will now serve as an example to other hospitals or institutions in the area looking to switch fuels. And there are many mulling it over. “A lot of hospitals are looking at alternative energy sources…several in our area are going to natural gas, which is cheaper than oil, but not as cost effective as pellets right now.”

MRH hopes to eventually expand the system to be able to use it year-round. Over 10 years, the hospital is projecting to save nearly $2 million. “That $2 million can go directly toward improving our hospital through the expansion of services, job creation or even upgrading equipment.”

For more information on pellet furnaces and heating systems, contact Northeast Distribution.