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BHSU receives $1 million funding for wood-fired boiler

Black Hills State University recently learned that a request for $1 million for a wood-fired boiler has been included in the FY 2010 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Congressionally-Directed Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Projects. The bill was signed into law by President Obama recently.

The bill was supported by South Dakota Senators Tim Johnson, John Thune and Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin as part of several energy and water appropriations. The funds will be used for additional planning, engineering design, and initial construction of a new wood-fired boiler and steam absorption chiller plant for the campus. Planning will include a feasibility analysis for a combined heating, cooling and power generation plant using wood biomass as an energy source.

BHSU is working with Spearfish Forest Products to develop a private-public partnership opportunity for a shared cogeneration plant that will provide benefits to both entities. Feasibility studies indicated that replacing the existing fossil fuel boilers with renewable biomass-fired boilers is both an economically and environmentally good plan.

This initiative is one of many the BHSU campus is pursuing as a part of its commitment to sustainability. BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp was among the early signers of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment which is committed to reducing dependence on fossil fuels, reducing green house gas emissions, and creating a sustainable campus that does not contribute to climate change.

The wood-fired boiler would replace two gas/oil boilers that provide steam to the campus. The wood-fired boiler would take advantage of the woody biomass that is available in large quantities in the Black Hills region from timber harvesting.

“This funding is very important to Black Hills State University. It will help us address our boiler plant needs and move us toward our goal of becoming a more sustainable campus,” BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp, says. “I appreciate all congressional delegates’ efforts and we look forward to working with Spearfish Forest Products in this endeavor.”

“In addition to the potentially lower energy costs for the University, the wood-fired boiler will support local jobs and the local economy as money is spent on woody biomass,” Kathy Johnson, vice president for finance and administration says. “Biomass projects actually improve the overall forest health and reduce forest fire potential and have a carbon neutral effect on the environment.”

Plans are being developed for a cogeneration system that will use locally available woody biomass to fire a steam generating boiler for heating in the winter and to provide chilled water in the summer. The new system will reduce Green House Gas emissions as no new CO2 is released and reduce dependence on fossil fuels and escalating market costs.

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