With colder weather on the horizon, Middlebury’s biomass gasification plant just hit a major milestone. According to Vice President for Administration Tim Spears, the College has saved more than $1 million in heating oil costs since the plant went into operation last year.
Centrally located on campus, the plant is Middlebury’s most significant step toward its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2016. The biomass boiler is expected to cut the use of No. 6 heating oil in half — from 2 million gallons to one million gallons annually — and reduce the college’s carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent, or 12,500 metric tons. The gasification system converts regionally grown wood chips into gas, which it then burns to provide steam for heating, cooling, hot water and cooking throughout the campus. The plant also helps cogenerate 20 percent of the campus’s electricity.