Chillicothe VA Center Transitions From Natural Gas To Biomass

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A Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center is the first in the nation to operate a biomass boiler system, saving a projected $500,000 a year in the process.

The Chillicothe VA Medical Center celebrated the opening of its new energy center Thursday aimed at helping the facility cut down on natural gas emissions.

The new boiler plant will burn wood chips instead of natural gas as the primary fuel source for generating steam and electric power.

Ryan Jeter, assistant chief engineer, says that Chillicothe is a great area to operate this new boiler because of its abundance of trees and wood chips.

According to Public Affairs Officer Stacia Ruby, the new biomass boiler will provide 70 percent of the building's heating requirements.

Noticing that the existing 40 year-old boiler was becoming unreliable in 2009, Jeter says that it was former Democratic State Representative Ray Pryor who planted the seed for the new biomass project in the minds of the engineers.

Jeter says that they probably would have continued to use natural gas if it wasn't for Pryor and his plan.

Although several other VA Medical Centers have biomass plants under construction, the Chillicothe Center is the first to have completed the project. 

Jeter says that his team of engineers is hoping to use their completed facility to train other facilities that are making the big switch.