Wild Center wins grant to enhance heat system

TUPPER LAKE — The Wild Center will share in $3 million awarded by the state to 18 research institutions, technology developers and biomass-fuel businesses to encourage the growth of high-efficiency, low-emission wood-fired heating equipment. 

With the grant of $126,000, the center will add two 850-gallon tanks of thermal storage to an existing combined pellet boiler and solar thermal project. 

The project, a press release said, will evaluate the improved efficiency of the system for two heating seasons — it is expected to hover near 85 percent. 

Clarkson University will perform the third-party evaluation.


The project enhances the existing pellet boiler and solar thermal system at the Wild Center, which was installed 2010 and funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. 

Clarkson already monitors that system, which is the first commercial-scale pellet boiler in the state. Data collected from the new system will help the state set research-based recommendations for new installations. 

The demonstration project has proven more economical each year, supports the local biomass industry and keeps heating dollars local, the release said.

“We’re committed to pushing the envelope on new energy ideas in a responsible way,” Wild Center Executive Director Stephanie Ratcliffe said in the release. 

“We’re interested in the science behind energy options, so we can show people who visit the center and our website that science. 

“Teaming up with Clarkson University lets us bring in great engineering minds to look at and test what we achieve. One of the best things that happens in the North Country is the teamwork between organizations, and this is another example of that kind of partnership at work.”


The Wild Center project and 17 others that won funding support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Renewable Heat NY Program.

“By investing in advanced biomass technologies across the state, we are actively reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and building a greener New York,” he said in the release. 

“Under our Renewable Heat NY initiative, we are supporting projects that phase out old, inefficient and polluting technologies and helping to grow the biomass clean-energy industry. These efforts will encourage economic growth in local communities and contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment for New Yorkers.”

The funding is awarded through NYSERDA’s Energy and Environmental Performance of Biomass-fired Heating Equipment Program, which encourages the entry of high-efficiency biomass technologies into the marketplace. 

Projects will also evaluate real-world conditions of biomass-fired heating systems, expand the bulk wood-pellet delivery market and assess the health risks of wood smoke in rural valley communities, the release said.

For more information, contact The Wild Center at 359-7800 or learn more about the installation at