When people talk about energy, particularly at the federal level, they think of electricity and transportation. In the northern states, those two large sectors account for about 65% of energy use. The other 35% is often ignored in policy discussions. It is the need for heating homes and businesses over the long cold winters.
The reason this matters is that for many the heat is produced from burning imported petroleum-based fossil fuel in boilers or furnaces. As this white paper will show, the negative economic and environmental impacts of this dependency are significant. But this paper will also show that the positive benefits that accrue from the conversion of homes and businesses from fossil fueled heating systems to renewable premium pellet fueled systems are significant.
This analysis will also briefly look at a serious problem that challenges our social stability: The economic mandate for growth in output and profits pushes businesses to minimize costs. Much of this cost minimization is taking place from the replacement of low and unskilled labor with automation. This paper will show how this marginalization of working class labor can be, at least in part, reversed by growing our bioeconomy and in particular the premium wood pellet sector.
This paper will focus on those homes and businesses that use petroleum-based fuel for heating. The reason for this focus is threefold: (1) Most of the petroleum used to make heating oil and propane is imported; (2) Natural gas penetration into many rural areas along the northern tier states will never happen due to low density populations, and (3) Petroleum fuel (and natural gas) use generates net new carbon in the atmosphere.
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