Colby College Biomass Plant Now Online
Colby College has set a campus-wide goal to become carbon neutral by the year 2015. This week they took a giant step toward achieving that goal.The new biomass plant at Colby went online in Waterville and is expected to heat the entire campus with wood products like tree tops, bark, and limbs from local forestry operations in the area. “People will often say to us, well Colby has a lot of land, go cut your own,” says Pat Whitney, the Director of Colby’s Physical Plant. “Well then we’d be cutting down big trees and we would rather use the bi-products of other forestry operations.” The boilers produce steam for heat, hot water, cooking, and cogeneration of electricity. They’ll replace 90 percent of the 1.1 million gallons of heating oil used by Colby each year, reducing heating costs by 1.5 million annually.Officials at Colby know that all eyes will be on them to see if this project is a success. “There are definitely some schools that have biomass but there aren’t a lot,” Whitney said. “So we do feel that people are kind of looking to us and I think Colby takes a lot of pride in itself in looking at these things. Whether it was the geothermal we did a number of years ago, the biomass, we’d like to be leaders in these areas.”The plant comes with a price tag of more than $11-million. during these peak heating months, around 75 to 100 tons of wood products are burned every day. That’s around 22,000 tons annually.