Should wood pellet boilers or furnaces be eligible for state rebates as a form of renewable energy?

Nov 20, 2015

BY: Citizens Count

Currently, NH's renewable energy fund offers rebates for new commercial or residential high-efficiency, bulk-fed wood pellet boilers or furnaces. Last year, these rebates totaled roughly $700,000.

While burning pellets releases carbon into the atmosphere, the fuel has been considered carbon-neutral provided the carbon value is offset by replanting forest areas, which has lead many to consider wood pellets as a renewable resource.

In the United States, wood pellets are traditionally manufactured from waste wood such as tree branches or sawmill residue, or from whole pine trees grown on certified sustainable lands.

Supporters of the rebates argue that wood pellet furnaces should remain eligible for state rebates, as their carbon-neutral status means that they do reduce overall carbon emissions. They also note that wood pellets are lower in chemicals such as sulfur and nitrogen than coal or other fossil fuels and therefore provide a more eco-friendly alternative.

Opponents counter that increased demand has lead to the wood pellet industry increasingly harvesting hardwood trees, which is not a carbon-neutral practice. They also express concerns about environmental impact on forest ecosystems in the southeastern U.S. where many large wood pellet manufacturers are located. They argue that rebate funds would be better spent to encourage less ambiguous renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power.

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