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Nine Mile chalet turns to biomass boiler for heating


The chalet at Nine Mile County Forest Recreation Area is now being heated by a cost-effective and clean-burning biomass boiler system, thanks in part to a state grant that helped fund the project.

Representatives from the Wisconsin State Energy Office presented a check for $20,000 to Marathon County officials during an event held at the chalet Tuesday afternoon. The grant money will be used to offset the equipment and installation costs of the system, which totaled about $35,000, said Dan Fiorenza, the operations superintendent of maintenance and development for the Wausau/Marathon County Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

Using the new system also could save the county about $2,000 per year in heating costs. The biomass boiler is expected to cut the costs of heating the chalet by 40 percent to 50 percent, Fiorenza said, and on average, the county spent about $4,000 to keep the chalet warm.

The new system is used in conjunction with the old liquid propane furnace, Fiorenza said, and LP can be burned to augment the biomass boiler. So far this winter, that hasn't been necessary, he said.

Users of the chalet, mostly Nordic skiers and snowshoers, haven't noticed the change, said Bill Miller, a chalet attendant.

"There's absolutely no difference in heat," he said.

The chalet helps make Nine Mile a winter destination for skiers and snowshoers from across the region. It offers a changing area, ski and snowshoe rentals and warming areas with two wood-burning stoves.

"There's nothing fancy about this place," Miller said. "But it has a community atmosphere. Some people will sit and read while other family members ski. It's a nice place to meet."

The State Energy Office used the grants to encourage agencies to install new heating systems because "they're trying to promote sustainable, renewable and locally sourced fuel," Fiorenza said. "This keeps the money close to home. The supply chain for (the wood fuel pellets the system burns) includes loggers, truckers and manufacturers, and it's within the state."

The county has contracted with Marth Wood Shavings Supply in Marathon to provide this winter's wood pellets.

The new system fits in well with the silent sport and environmental ethos of Nine Mile, Fiorenza said. "We also have sustainable, long-term managed timber production out there in the forest, and we're using sustainable fuel."


Read More: Biomass Heating Boilers


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