Griffiss goes green

August 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Green energy is coming to Griffiss Business and Technology Park.

The utility that serves the park uses oil and gas to generate energy for its electrical and steam heating services. But by October 2013, the Griffiss Utility Services Corp. plant will have the capacity to use wood chips as a third source of fuel.

“This is an opportunity to alleviate the volatility of the natural gas and fuel oil markets,” GUSC President and CEO Dan Maneen said at a ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday afternoon.

Under the $18 million plan, GUSC also will be able to use wood chips fuel. The new system won’t replace the old one, and the two systems could be used together to maximize cost effectiveness and efficiency, Maneen said.

He also said wood chips are a renewable source of energy that can be purchased locally.

Tim Birnie, president and owner of Birnie Bus that operates out of the Business and Technology Park, said he likes the idea.

“We are excited about the project being next door,” he said. “We think it’s good for the park.”

GUSC is a carryover from the days of Griffiss Air Force Base, which was closed in the mid-1990s during a federal Base Realignment and Closure round.

Its 26-mile steam pipe network brings heat to many buildings at the technology park, including the Air Force Research Laboratory, a long-time occupant, and some newer tenants such as Assured Information Security.

Also, the fact that the wood-chip system can be characterized as green energy could help the remaining military-owned facilities at the former base in the face of possible federal Defense Department cuts. As officials assess where to cut the military budget, they will look at a host of different criteria.

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