Amherst company lands $885K grant for woodchip equipment

  • Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson speaks to a crowd at Wagner Wood at North East Street in Amherst on Monday, announcing an $885,000 matching grant for the company through the state’s Renewable Thermal Infrastructure Grant Program.  Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources

Staff Writer
Published: 2/11/2019 3:53:49 PM

AMHERST — An Amherst logging and bark mulch company is among five businesses in Massachusetts that will use a total of nearly $2.9 million in grants to improve the production and availability of low-carbon, renewable heating fuels.

Wagner Wood, on North East Street, was awarded $885,000 by the Baker-Polito Administration to buy equipment that will improve how its woodchips are processed, handled and stored, and then delivered to residential and commercial fuel storage silos.

The grants are funded by the state’s Department of Energy Resources and are part of the Renewable Thermal Infrastructure Grant Program.

Jaime Wagner, office manager at Wagner Wood, said Monday that the plan is to have a new chipper and a new wood grinder installed on the site within a few months.

“They will make a better product that we can sell immediately,” Wagner said, adding that the company makes sure none of the trees it harvests goes to waste.

Wagner said Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, which has a woodchip boiler, is one of Wagner Wood’s major customers, and the hope is that through the state investment more companies will invest in similar boilers.

Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement that his administration is supporting these technologies as an investment in local economies, an improvement to energy sustainability and expansion of heating options.

“Renewable heating is critical to reducing the commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emissions and meeting our targets under the Global Warming Solutions Act,” Baker said.

Two other western Massachusetts companies are also receiving grants through the program.

Pantermehl Land Clearing Inc. in  Ashfield earned $350,000 to buy a large format chipper, live-floor trailer and chip screen, which will allow the company to bulk deliver dried woodchips. A new chip storage building and asphalt pad are part of this project. Holiday Farm Inc. in Dalton received $1 million to buy two trucks that will deliver its dried woodchips.

The businesses receiving the grants are required to match at least 50 percent of the project costs, which state officials said will result in approximately $6 million of infrastructure upgrades across the state. 

Dried woodchips are among new renewable thermal technologies included in the state’s Alternative Portfolio Standard regulations, in effect since Jan. 1, 2009, which are supposed to contribute to the state’s clean energy goals by increasing energy efficiency and reducing the need for conventional fossil fuel-based power generation.

Both Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton and Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson were at Wagner Wood on Monday for the grant announcement.

The other grants went to Caluwe Inc. in Burlington, which received $426,035 to build a showroom storage warehouse in western Massachusetts and purchase a service vehicle, and Dunlap’s Energy in Plymouth, which received $228,250 to build a mixing tank that precisely blends renewable biofuel with conventional heating fuels.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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