Haines State Forest (Credit: Flickr/~dgies)

Haines State Forest (Credit: Flickr/~dgies)

Haines is one of just two Alaska communities to be awarded large wood-innovation grants from the U.S. Forest Service. The other is the Hydaburg School District.

The Haines Borough will get $250,000 to use toward expanding a wood energy, or biomass, heating system.

According to a Forest Service release, 77 applications were received nationwide with 42 grants awarded after a competitive process.

The quarter-million-dollar boost will go toward the design of a wood-fueled district system that could eventually heat the school, pool and other public facilities.

The project would potentially help the borough go from burning of 80,000 gallons of heating fuel per year, and save as much as $3 million over the life of the project, according to the release. Other local benefits of biomass, according the Service, is the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of nearly 1.8 million pounds per year.

The borough acquired three refurbished Coast Guard boilers late last year as part of the project. The systems use pellets or wood chips to fuel boilers as an earth-friendly, locally sustainable alternative, or addition, to oil-burning furnaces.

The borough also got a $1.3 million-grant from the Alaska Energy Authority’s Renewable Energy Fund to move forward with the project.

The total cost of the Haines biomass project is an estimated $1.5 million.

The Hydaburg School District was awarded $150,000 from the Forest Service for the design of a cordwood-fueled heating system that will provide heat to the school buildings and greenhouse.

The Hydaburg School Wood Biomass Project will replace old diesel-burning boilers with cordwood-fired boilers, as well as heat a greenhouse that will provide fresh, nutritious vegetables for the school lunch program.