CORNER BROOK The City of Corner Brook is hoping to heat things up at the Corner Brook Museum and Archives. The museum — which has been closed since October 2009, but is scheduled to re-open next month after several delays — could be the site for a pilot wood pellet furnace project.
Mike Dolter, the city’s chief administrative officer, confirmed city staff has been in discussions with provincial forestry representatives on the feasibility of such a project. Although discussions are preliminary, with a meeting taking place approximately a month ago, he said both sides are interested.
The pilot project would see the installation of a functioning wood pellet furnace as the primary heating source for the museum. It would replace the existing oil furnace that recently required investment on maintenance and repair in preparation for the upcoming re-opening.
Dolter said the forestry representatives from the province are exploring the project further, and will determine whether a feasibility study is required or if the project can go ahead. The chief administrative officer said the province would likely fund such a study and the city would likely seek funding if the project goes ahead.
“We are going to approach it by making sure it can work and then, once we get that answer, we will move towards it if we can get the funding in place and everything ready to go,” he said. “I don’t see any major roadblocks in that, because we are prepared to replace the furnace anyway.”
Although still in preliminary discussion, Dolter said it would be ideal if something could be in place by this fall due to the suspect longevity of the existing furnace.
Meanwhile, Mayor Neville Greeley is hoping it gets the go ahead. With the replacement of the furnace pending, he said a greener form of heat, with a potential for long-term savings, is a priority.
“It certainly fits with the green initiatives for the building, and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification,” he said. “It gets us away from fossil fuels, those pellet furnaces are pretty efficient and have low emissions, and they are sustainable.”
There is a concern about the accessibility of wood pellets and the operational side in terms of ongoing expenses, particularly with supply, according to the mayor.
“We don’t want to see a situation where we actually have to be going out and locating pellets, then loading them into a hopper,” he said. “Any cost savings you would have had by going that route would be eaten up in labour costs and what not. That would be the only concern for the city.”
However, Greeley said the province as a whole is moving away from fossil fuels and thinks pellets will become more readily available.
“I think we are going to see, instead of an oil truck going around, a delivery truck going around with pellets,” he said.
In the meantime, Corner Brook Museum and Archives co-chairperson, Dan Murphy, is excited about the possibility of such a project going ahead. He said the board could look at ways to develop interpretive pieces around wood pellets or alternative energy sources to coincide with it.
A Department of Natural Resources spokesperson confirmed the province was in discussions with the city about the project, but declined comment at this time.