Local plant uses wood chips to go green


ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) -- The Griffiss Utility Services Corporation celebrated the completion of a new facility on Tuesday that allows them to turn wood chips into steam.

"We took our natural gas fired steam plant and retrofitted it to use wood chips in lieu of natural gas or fuel oil," said Dan Maneen, President and CEO of  Griffiss Utility Services Corporation.

The new technology gives them flexibility to use whatever product is the cheapest on the market at the time. Right now, wood chips are the least expensive way for them to make steam to heat local businesses.

"And by using wood chips to make steam, we're also making electricity as a byproduct," said Maneen.

So now G.U.S.C. can also provide electricity to their 60 customers within Griffiss Business and Technology Park. Wood chips also absorb carbon dioxide, so it's helping them go green.

"What we're doing is taking our carbon footprint and lowering it to the equivalent of taking 2,700 cars off the road a year and it also helps our federal customers meet their federal mandates to go green," said Maneen.

Besides saving money and being environmentally friendly, Maneen said this new system is also putting millions of dollars into the local economy.

"At least now I know the truckers, the wood chip guys, they use the diners, the restaurants, they shop in the same stores, go to the same churches, so it's our neighbors who are delivering chips who we're purchasing them from, so it stays local and I think it benefits the community. Millions of dollars a year we'll be paying for wood chips," he said.

Local officials showed support at the plant Tuesday and said this system will actually bring more jobs to the area.

"One of the offshoots is obviously the way they generate this allows them to continue to locate prospective tenants to the park because you're lowering costs to do business here," said Sen. Joseph Griffo, (R) - 47th Senate District.

G.U.S.C. will put the new technology to use the first cold week in October. They're also already looking ahead, hoping to tackle solar projects next.

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