Alaska Gateway School District Adopts Combined Heat and Power

Project Overview
Positive Impact: Tok School was able to rehire three staff members thanks to the $125,000 annual savings from the new boiler.
Locations: Alaska
Partners: Alaska Gateway School District
EERE Investment: Technical assistance
Clean Energy Sector: Energy-saving homes, buildings, and manufacturingPDF

In Tok, Alaska, the economic impact of high fuel prices was crippling the community’s economy—especially for the Alaska Gateway School District, with staff laid off and double duties assigned to many. To help offset high energy costs, the school district decided to replace its separated diesel heat and power systems with a biomass combined heat and power (CHP) system. Northwest Clean Energy Application Center, an EERE-supported organization, aided this project by providing technical support to develop a woody biomass CHP system, which uses a 5.5-million British thermal unit steam turbine (120-kilowatt capacity) in lieu of diesel heating and diesel power generation. The system heats the 80,000-square-foot local school and will soon allow the school to begin construction this summer on a greenhouse that will grow fresh vegetables for the school district’s food service program. Tok School spends more than $300,000 annually on heating fuel and electricity, and the boiler will save an estimated $125,000 per year on fuel. Once the CHP systems are fully operational, the rate of biopower consumption will increase, with an anticipated use of 5–6 tons of biomass per day; this biopower will displace approximately 65,000 gallons of heating fuel. Because of the biomass CHP project’s anticipated and realized savings, Tok School has been able to rehire three staff members for the school—a music teacher, counselor, and boiler operator. Once more savings are realized and biomass CHP is expanded into other sites, the school anticipates further improvements to student services.

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