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Trout at the McLaughlin Hatchery in Belchertown

Trout at the McLaughlin Hatchery in Belchertown

If you’ve never been to a fish hatchery before, the sheer number of fish is overwhelming. Inside, the fish eggs are kept at just the right temperature so they hatch and grow into little trout called fry. Outside, tanks upon tanks of larger trout swim laps in the tanks, oblivious to the seagulls swarming above. The state manages four such hatcheries and as tempting as it would be to easily scoop up the fish for dinner from a tank (instead of catching them in places like Jamaica Pond in Boston), fishing is not allowed at the hatcheries, even for the seagulls.

The McLaughlin Fish Hatchery in Belchertown is a place frequented not only by birds, but also by school kids and avid fishermen. It’s a great educational opportunity for folks to learn about fish lifecycles and it supports Massachusetts’ $567 million fishing industry. Soon it will be a great educational place for folks to learn about renewable energy as well.

Running a fish farm is an intense operation, one that requires a lot of labor and a large amount of energy. Currently, the McLaughlin Hatchery uses a significant amount of oil to heat its facility. The facility is going to replace its oil furnace with a renewable energy heating system. Run by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, the hatchery is getting a new high efficiency wood pellet boiler and pellet storage silo that will be partially funded by a $190,560 energy grant. The system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 92 percent, save an estimated $11,432 annually, and reduce annual oil use by more than 5,000 gallons.

This project is just one showcase for the Department of Energy Resources’ (DOER) Leading by Example (LBE) program. Its $390,000 in grants to three state entities will fund installation of renewable heating and cooling systems, and a feasibility study of renewable thermal opportunities in ten additional facilities. Besides the pellet system installation at the fish hatchery, the Plum Island Shellfish Purification facility will benefit from installing seven new cold temperature, high efficiency air source heat pumps. Combined with a separately funded new propane boiler, the installation will save an estimated $3,562 in annual savings and completely eliminate the use of more than 1,800 gallons of oil per year.

If you prefer camping to fishy waters, you’ll be happy to know that state campsites and conference centers are also on the list for studies and installations.

Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)

Images from seven of eight DCR sites that will receive renewable thermal feasibility studies

Images from seven of eight DCR sites that will receive renewable thermal feasibility studies

Eight DCR sites that need to replace their oil and electric heating systems will undergo studies to determine if they are good locations for biomass boilers or highly efficient air source heat pumps that will reduce emissions and energy costs. The $46,420 renewable thermal feasibility study grant will benefit DCR sites that include hiking trails and campgrounds that are habitats for heron, raptors and river otter; terrain for mountain bikers, horseback riders and rock climbers; paved bike trails; forest that offers picnicking, swimming, fishing, canoeing on the edge of sixteen ponds; camping and fishing on Cape Cod Bay; and much more.

An additional $31,300 grant will partially fund the installation of a multi-zone hyper air source heat pump at the Quabbin Conference Center to replace the oil fired boiler currently in use. By eliminating 1,200 gallons of oil each year, the new system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over seven metric tonnes and result in an estimated 72% in energy savings. The installation of this specific heat pump will be one of the first of its kind in the United States.

Massachusetts Trial Courts

Both the Uxbridge and Westborough District Courts would like to replace their aging electric heating and cooling system with air source heat pumps. A $37,600 grant will determine the economic and technical feasibility.

We anticipate that more state agencies will take the bait and propose more renewable thermal projects soon.

Written By:


Renewable Energy Program Coordinator

Kara Sergeant is a Renewable Energy Program Coordinator at Massachusetts DOER where she focuses on renewable heating and cooling. She is currently managing contracts for the Community Clean Energy Resiliency Initiative grants and supporting low income residents with renewable thermal installations. Kara has a Masters from Tufts University in Environmental Policy and Planning and a Bachelors from Dickinson College in Environmental Science. When not talking about clean energy, Kara serves as the resident restaurant expert as she enjoys exploring the culinary offerings of the city.

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