Renewable energy idea losing steam |

Renewable energy idea losing steam

Duffy Hayes
Vail, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY ” After more than two years of extensive study looking into an ambitious, renewable energy biomass plant to heat local county buildings, it seems the numbers just aren’t adding up for the project.

The Summit County County Board of Commissioners heard some disappointing data at their regular Tuesday work session about the feasibility of construction of a large wood-fired boiler, once envisioned to heat buildings at the County Commons, the Medical Office Building, and even the newer St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.

A number of scenarios were presented in the detailed analysis: constructing a large biomass plant to heat the medical offices and hospital, building a smaller biomass facility for the County Commons and siting a small biomass system or geothermal heat source at the new recycling facility.

It has been suggested that Vail consider building a biomass plant that would be powered by trees killed by pine beetles in the surrounding forest, but no studies have been done.

Only making county buildings more energy efficient, such as by installing new light bulbs, was deemed economically feasible, according to the Johnson Controls report.

The two more ambitious scenarios, where biomass boilers burning wood chips from local forests would be located near the hospital or County Commons, proved to be “very challenging” in terms of the numbers.

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