Fairbanks to get first wood kiln for producing dry firewood

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska. (KTVF) Fairbanks will be getting its first wood kiln to produce clean burning dry firewood. Aurora Energy Solutions, a new company owned by Usibelli Investments, announced last week that it will be constructing a wood kiln to produce clean-burning dry firewood to help reduce PM 2.5 emissions.

Aurora Energy Solutions will be constructing a wood kiln in Fairbanks similar to this one as pictured from SII Dry Kilns. (Courtesy: SII Dry Kilns)

Chad Schumacher, general manager of Aurora Energy Solutions, says they have been working on the concept since the Air Quality Stakeholders Group discussed how much residents burning of only clean dry wood would improve the air quality.

“The stakeholder’s group was really what pushed us to analyze this concept, and over the last 18 months we’ve drawn all of those ideas together,” said Schumacher.

As they looked to move forward with the kiln concept, Aurora Energy Solutions acquired the assets of Superior Pellet Fuels.

“The synergies that we could tie between the manufactured products at Superior Pellet Fuels and the future opportunities with the firewood kiln and the ways to optimize our labor, it was really kind of a perfect fit there. So the relationship grew from the original discussions of Superior Pellet Fuels becoming an acquisition,” said Schumacher.

Schumacher says they expect to have the kiln fully constructed by the end of the August and start drying wood at the beginning of September. He says they are still working on the details for selling the firewood, but picking up the firewood and getting deliveries will be options.

Schumacher says they are hoping to have the kiln-dried firewood available at a similar price to green firewood that is for sale. He says each cycle in the kiln will dry 48 cords of firewood and take about two full days.

Schumacher says having wood that will be dry and ready for immediate use is especially helpful for residents who stay in Fairbanks for a short time. "It's tough to maintain that steady supply and really stack up and store your wood for that year or two year cycle that we want these customers to use. Now it's a product that they don't have to put that time and effort into. They can just show up and have that product immediately available to them," said Schumacher.

Members of the Alaska State House of Representatives who represent Interior Alaska released statements about the announcement of the kiln:

“The Interior has long been plagued by high energy prices and air quality issues. This community-based, private sector solution by Usibelli and Aurora Energy, along with clean-burning natural gas will be essential elements in bringing our community into attainment.”
– Rep. Bart LeBon, House District 1, R-Fairbanks

“This means more jobs for Fairbanks, more options for heating our homes, and improving air quality.”
– Rep. Steve Thompson, House District 2, R-Fairbanks

“I am very glad that Aurora Energy has stepped forward to make more dry firewood available to the Interior market. This will play a significant role in keeping heating costs affordable while reducing fine particulate emissions and it will help keep the Interior firewood industry moving. I wish them every success.”
– Rep. Mike Prax, House District 3, R-North Pole

“House Bill 232 will make this project even more economical because it allows the city and borough to create tax credits to improve our local air quality. This partnership between state and local governments and the private sector will create new permanent jobs, right where we need them - solving local problems at the local level.”
– Rep. Grier Hopkins, House District 4, D-Fairbanks

“I think it's a very creative use of Aurora Energy's waste heat that can help reduce emissions into the Fairbanks community. The PM 2.5 problem is a big issue and this could help Interior residents burn properly dried wood.”
– Rep. Adam Wool, House District 5, D-Fairbanks

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