There are several examples of schools in the Interior and SE Alaska who have been able to keep up with the rising heating costs this past half decade by converting (at least partially) from fuel oil to wood as their primary heat. In most cases, the boilers gasify the wood for high efficiency and usually are taking in whole logs.

There are some communities back east (New England states) however, that are using pellets for their school heating.  And also for grouping of homes; that is, heating neighborhoods. One advocate in Concord, NH, is the non-profit  Northern Forest Center. It has in the past subsidized high-efficiency pellet boilers in “model neighborhoods”; such as one of just over 3 dozen homes, apartments and an art center (in Berlin, NH) which installed pellet boilers about a half decade ago .

When buying in bulk, large facilities can buy pellets at approximately a third less than we can in Alaska.  (The energy load back East- residential- is approximately 80% fossil fuel).  And the void that has been created in the paper and board markets has allowed the wood fuel manufactures to concentrate on pellet production, so supply is well off.  Granted, with oil prices dropping there may not be the strong  economic advantage of switching to wood which there was 5 years ago, yet there is also no guarantee what is going to happen to oil prices in the future- and there is no doubt that they are much more variable than the price of wood over time!

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