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NY commits $27 million to build wood heat industry

TROY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched a $27 million initiative to build the market for high-efficiency, low-emissions wood heating systems in the state.

The program, launched Tuesday at Troy-based Evoworld, a maker of high-efficiency wood-pellet boilers, is aimed at developing more clean technology manufacturing in the state along with a skilled heating system installer base and sustainably harvested wood fuels from state forests.

The money is coming from New York’s share of proceeds from the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation’s first cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants.

John Rhodes, president of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said the program will lower costs for efficient, low-emissions wood heating systems for residential and commercial installation.

“In rural New York, many homeowners spend up to 30 percent of their income just heating their homes,” said Matt McArdle, chairman of the New York Bioenergy Alliance. He said the technology exists today to provide a renewable, lower-cost alternative to fossil fuels.

The Renewable Heat NY program will offer incentives to retire and recycle highly polluting outdoor and indoor wood boilers and stoves and replace them with efficient, low-emissions wood heating systems.

A new residential pellet heating system costs about $2,000 to $6,500. NYSERDA is offering a $1,000 incentive for homeowners who buy a new, high-efficiency, lower emissions pellet stove and recycle an existing, highly polluting wood stove. Financing is available for the remaining cost. A small commercial pellet boiler costs about $22,000, and NYSERDA will provide an incentive equal to 25 percent of the installed cost. Large commercial installations can receive an incentive of 25 percent of the installed cost, up to $150,000.

“NYSERDA will jump-start the initiative with large anchor projects, which will help increase demand for wood pellets and decrease the costs for smaller residential and commercial customers as the market grows,” Rhodes said.

Joe Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said DEC is exploring ways to install a wood biomass heating system for state offices in the Essex County hamlet of Ray Brook.

The Evoworld pellet-burning outdoor furnaces are fully automatic, using wood pellets delivered by a truck to a storage shed beside the furnace.

One drawback is that the systems require electricity so a homeowner would need a backup generator to run it during a power outage.


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