Colby Begins Construction On Bio Mass Facility

Rob Poindexter

Updated 3 years ago

Construction has begun on a new biomass facility at Colby College in Waterville.Fplks working on the project say it will replace the more than 1-million gallons of oil the school uses every year.During the coldest months of the year they’ve been known to get 2-truckloads of oil delivered here at Colby College per day. That adds up to 1.1 million gallons per year. The folks here, like Patricia Murphythe Physical Plant Director, say that’s simply not acceptable. “Well several years ago we really started looking to an alternative to oil at our heating plant,” Murphy says. “The heating plant is so critical to providing heat, hot water, dehumidification, cooking. It does an awful lot for us on campus and to be solely dependant on oil is really nerve racking at times.”Construction has begun on a new biomass plant that Murphy says will replace around 90% of the oil they use here. The plant will have two 400-horsepower biomass fueled boilers that produce steam for heat. Instead of 1.1 million gallons of oil, this system will burn around 22,000 tons of locally sourced wood chips and forest waste. “But the plan is not to cut down virgin trees to use but for us to use wood waste and forest debris and the things that are really by-products of logging operations that in many cases are not used,” she says. “So our hope is to use some of those products that may get left on the forest floor.”The goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2015. Colby is now getting more than 90% of its electricity from wind and hydro sources. This green energy shift is exciting students. “Our interaction with the students is ongoing,” says Dale Dubois, the Environmental Program Manager at Colby. “They seem to have bought in to what we’re trying to accomplish and they’re becoming stewards with us.” The plant is expected to be up and going by next fall.


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