The NH Wood Energy Council (NHWEC), a not-for-profit public education and outreach organization, released a new report this week that documents the economic and environmental benefits of heating community, commercial and institutional buildings with modern wood chip and pellet technology.

NHWEC analyzed the use of wood fuels in calendar year 2015 in hospitals, schools, municipal buildings, and private businesses across the state. In the last 10 years, more than 120 new installations have been made, nearly always replacing imported heating oil.

Key findings of the 2015 analysis include:

* Savings in annual heating costs (versus average fossil fuel cost) – $11.8 million.
* Direct spending on local fuels (wood pellets and chips instead of exporting fuel dollars for oil) – $5.8 million.
* Total value of economic impact generated – $35.9 million.
* Net reduction in CO2 emissions (by switching to wood fuels) – 69,091 tons.

“It’s clear that advanced wood heating technology is generating significant benefits for New Hampshire, said Rick DeMark, coordinator of NHWEC. “Modern, clean wood chip and pellet boilers are now heating a wide array of bigger buildings in our state. By switching to wood fuels, we keep our fuel dollars here, support our local economy and improve our forest resource base.”

The study documented wood fuel use in these buildings at 7,500 tons of pellets and 94,000 tons of wood chips during 2015. These fuels are nearly entirely produced within N.H., supporting hundreds of jobs.

The study did not evaluate residential use of wood and wood pellets, which has also grown dramatically in NH. A study of US Census Bureau data by the Alliance for Green Heat found that wood use as a primary heating fuel grew more than 90 percent from 2000 to 2010 in New Hampshire, to more than eight percent of households, or about 36,000 households.

“NH exports over $600 million for fossil heating fuels annually,” said Charlie Niebling, a consultant with Innovative Natural Resource Solutions and author of the study. “We can sustainably displace about 25 percent of this with modern wood heating from New Hampshire forests. This transition can create jobs and economic opportunity at a time when other low-grade forest product markets like pulp and paper are declining, and support good forest management.”