Potential Sites for Planned Biomass Plant Discussed at Forum

At the public forum, College officials outlined how they picked the three potential sites.

Dartmouth is considering three locations on which to construct a proposed biomass plant, part of the $200 million-plus Dartmouth Green Energy Project that would build a biomass heating facility and hot water transmission system to replace the existing central heating system and mark a major step toward achieving the institution’s sustainability goals.

At a forum this evening, College officials outlined the process they used to pick the three potential sites—all Dartmouth-owned properties—and sought feedback from those attending the session.

The sites: the south end of the golf course; the hill behind the Dewey parking lot; and property on Route 120 in Hanover where the Trumbull-Nelson Construction Company is located. Trumbull-Nelson has decided to relocate its business to better meet its needs.

The three sites were chosen from a larger list of properties in Hanover, Norwich, and Lebanon. The locations were picked after College planners considered such factors as the impact of traffic to the site; potential truck routes; environmental considerations such as the impact on wildlife; and distance to campus. The Route 120 site is 2 miles from the Dartmouth Green.

College officials will gather feedback through July and expect to pick a site for the plant by the end of summer. Comments on the potential sites can be sent via the Green Energy Project website.

Dartmouth would work with a private firm to design, finance, permit, build, operate, and maintain the energy project, which, it is expected, would be in operation in 2025, after two years of construction. The system would change how heat is produced and delivered on campus, transitioning the College from steam heat to hot-water heat, which College planners say would improve heating efficiency by 20 percent. The plant would be powered by low-grade residue from logging and sustainable forestry operations, with the option to use other biofuels on days of high-energy demand.

Working with a private company would allow the College to take advantage of the expertise in the energy industry, enabling the institution to focus its resources on its core educational mission. Dartmouth would pay the company to run the energy system for 30 years.

The College is currently reviewing submissions from companies that have expressed an interest in working with the College. Three or four companies will be chosen next month to submit detailed proposals on the project. The proposals will be due in mid-2020, with a private partner expected to be chosen a year from now.

Susan J. Boutwell can be reached at [email protected]