Beetle Kill Wood Use


On the heels of a tough winter for the wood pellet industry, Confluence Energy CEO Mark Mathis will describe new business opportunities that are making him optimistic about making better use of his Kremmling plant’s 125,000-ton annual capacity.
Gilpin County Commissioner Jeanne Nicholson will explain the decision-making process that led to the installation of a woody biomass heating system in the county’s 21,000-square-foot road and bridge facility several miles north of Central City. The garage is heated with a state-of-the-art Messersmith biomass boiler system that distributes the radiant heat through the floor. Logs – both beetle-killed and others – are delivered to the site where they are mashed into chips. “It has been an almost flawless operation,” says Bill Paulman, facilities manager for Gilpin County.
Through the first 11 months of 2008, the wood-burning system saved the county government $29,000 compared to the costs for burning natural gas, Paulman says. A study done in advance estimated a payback of the boiler system and other energy conserving technology at 19 years. However, wood has cost less and natural gas more than was assumed.
The initiative is part of a Boulder/Gilpin County Biomass Collection project, which received start-up funding as part of a US Forest Service grant to five Colorado counties from in 1997.
Sandy Briggs will discuss the results of a Forest Health Task Force survey of attendees at a recent Mountain States Lumber & Building Materials Dealers fall conference in Vail, which sought data on sales of Colorado-sourced beetle kill wood products.