Paul Smith’s College has recently expanded its options for energy sourcing, enabling college officials to balance the use of energy on campus while also supporting the regional economy. PSC has recently joined the Feel Good Heat Initiative, coordinated by the Northern Forest Center, as well as made an agreement to receive electric power from a hydroelectric plant in St. Regis Falls. These two partnerships complement the college’s existing use of wood pellet fuel sourced locally in Massena.
The Feel Good Heat Initiative promotes economic and community vitality as well as strong forest stewardship in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, by promoting automated wood heat — whole-building, integrated wood pellet boiler systems that can replace an oil or propane boiler.
“By transitioning to automated wood heat, institutions, businesses and homeowners in New York can keep their heating dollars at home and support local jobs and local businesses while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Leslie Karasin, the Adirondack program manager for the Northern Forest Center. “We applaud Paul Smith’s College for making a commitment to helping us promote this opportunity, which is such a great fit for the forest-based economy that the college celebrates. We encourage everyone in the area to check out feelgoodheat.org to learn more about no-fuss options to heat with local wood pellets.”
Meanwhile, the college has also signed on as an early customer for Northern Power & Light, a Saranac Lake-based company with a hydro facility in St. Regis Falls. Similar to rooftop solar, electricity from the generator creates a credit on customers’ utility bills.
“These are our local resources,” said Northern Power & Light co-founder Emmett Smith. “It used to be that you paid a local company, like Paul Smith’s Electric Light & Power Co., for your electricity. Now, a lot of what you pay goes overseas, while the smaller local power plants are forced to shut down. We want to give local generators a bigger share of the retail price.”
Paul Smith’s also recently installed a pellet boiler to heat three different academic buildings using wood pellets that come from Curran Renewable Energy in Massena. The system, one of the first of its kind in Upstate New York, displaces an estimated 28,000 gallons of heating oil each year. The pellet boiler was installed at a minimal cost for the college, which received grant funding through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, known as NYSERDA.
“The college’s leadership with this pellet boiler installation demonstrates what is possible with this fabulous technology,” said Karasin. “Without having to physically move wood or pellets around, campus staff are able to keep classrooms warm with a local, renewable resource that is 100 percent local.”
These actions will continue to help the institution as it works toward its goal of going carbon neutral by 2029, as outlined in the college’s Climate Action Plan and the American Colleges and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.
“What’s powerful about these initiatives is that they don’t just benefit Paul Smith’s — they help build the North Country’s renewable energy infrastructure as a whole,” said Kate Glenn, lecturer and sustainability coordinator at Paul Smith’s.
“By working with NYSERDA, the Northern Forest Center’s Feel Good Heat Initiative and Northern Power & Light, we are supporting local businesses, allowing our students first hand access to new technology, and inviting the public to learn more about these opportunities, all of which is essential to developing climate resilient communities here in the North Country,” Glenn added.
About Paul Smith’s College
At Paul Smith’s College, it’s about the experience. We are the only four-year institution of higher education in the Adirondacks. Our programs – in fields including hospitality, culinary arts, forestry, natural resources, entrepreneurship and the sciences – draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. For more information, visit www.paulsmiths.edu.