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In pilot program, state DOT burns biodiesel to heat Franconia facility

Union Leader Correspondent

February 26. 2017 10:33PM
Jon Bushway, the foreman of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation's Patrol Facility 116 in Franconia, in front of a tank containing biodiesel fuel. In a pilot program that began in October, Facility 116 is using biodiesel for heat. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

FRANCONIA — For the first time, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s Patrol Facility 116 is using locally-produced biodiesel to heat its shed here on Profile Road.

Renewable, less expensive than No. 2 heating oil, cleaner-burning and thereby less-polluting, the biodiesel is being provided at no cost by White Mountain Biodiesel in North Haverhill.

Along with the Governor’s Office of Energy and Planning, the state DOT is conducting a pilot program to test whether biodiesel fuel derived from waste vegetable oil is a viable option for heating facilities, according to the agency’s Winter 2017 edition of its “On the Move” newsletter.

Facility 116 was chosen, the newsletter said, because it has more than one furnace and storage tank as well for its proximity to White Mountain Biodiesel.

An owner of White Mountain Biodiesel is Wayne Presby, also a co-owner of the Cog Railway, which has several engines that run on the fuel made by WMB.

On Feb. 23, Jon Bushway, Facility 116’s foreman, said he thinks the pilot program, which began last October, is working as hoped.

The biodiesel “burns warmer and heats better,” he said, adding that Facility 116 used to consume about 1,600 gallons of No.2 heating oil per winter to heat its 4,500 square-foot shed, and spent about $3,600.

Facility 116 has four full-time employees and operates six trucks that are used to maintain all secondary state roads — about 90 miles worth — in the area between Franconia in the east and Lisbon in the west, including Routes 18, 116, 117 and 142.

State highway maintenance engineer Caleb Dobbins said, “If we can go towards this with less reliance on conventional heating oil, then this is a fantastic way to do it.”

Deandra Perruccio, an energy analyst with the OEP, added that, “We are pretty excited about it” because wholesale prices for biodiesel fuel are running 20 to 50 cents a gallon below that of No. 2 heating oil.

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