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Washington Officials Celebrate Wood As Fuel Source At Northport School

northport_school.jpg
Northport School District
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The little northeast Washington town of Northport is in the spotlight today [Thursday] for its decision to use wood to heat its local school.

The Northport School District used $400,000 from the state Department of Commerce and the Forest Service to buy and install a new high-efficiency pellet stove. The pellets come from wood harvested from local forests.

This afternoon, Northport school officials gave tours of the school to show off the new system. Peter Moulton [molten] from the Department of Commerce says the furnace has actually been in service for a year and is already bringing a return on investment.

“The preliminary work that the school district has done, along with WSU Energy, shows that they’ve saved somewhere between $9,000-10,000 in operating costs their first year. Not huge, but for a rural school district, that’s $9,000-10,000 and that’s before we’ve actually tweaked the system after its first year of performance so we can actually expect it to be even greater savings in the future," Moulton said.

Moulton says the state has talked with a half dozen other school districts about upgrading their energy systems, using wood as a fuel. But, he says, in many cases, the districts would have to invest money in addition to government grants. He says their fiscal situations are precarious enough that they’re not ready to borrow money to cover the balance.