There is nothing so fitting, dare I say Divinely Inspired, about the heating system upgrade completed last Fall at the First Congregational Church of Thetford. Built in 1787, this historic structure on Thetford Hill is the oldest meetinghouse in continuous use in the State of Vermont. Through the years it has been heated by wood, coal, oil, and propane. With minimal insulation in the main sanctuary and serious restrictions on making alternations to the exterior of the structure, the Church's Building Committee faced a serious challenge when seeking to replace two of its three (failing) furnaces.
Rather than taking the easy path of simple propane furnace replacement, the Committee chose to install a state-of-the-art wood pellet boiler that is now saving upwards of 3800 gallons of propane per year. It was a totally LOCAL solution: the equipment was sourced and engineered by Tarm Biomass in Lyme, NH, installation was by Roger Carpenter Services in Thetford, and fuel delivery is provided by Lyme Green Heat in Lyme. And rather than sending their fuel dollars overseas, the pellets are manufactured at New England Wood Pellet in Jaffrey, NH, from material that would have otherwise been left to decompose (and give off CO2 emissions) in the forests of NH and VT.
I asked Committee spokesman Michael Zens whether this "high tech" solution was a hard sell for the Congregation and whether it has met their expectations or presented any special operational challenges they hadn't planned on. He proudly announced that the pellet boiler verdict was unanimous, and that after acclimating the boiler to an extremely complicated heating regimen during the first full heating season, the operational and cleaning requirements are minimal and everyone loves the outcome.
The Church encourages all individuals or institutions who are considering a renewable biomass energy upgrade to pay a visit and find out why everyone is "feeling good about wood" on Thetford Hill!