Prairie City School District

Prairie City, Oregon

Prairie City School District #4 was in desperate need of a new heating system. Only three of their original five propane-fired boilers remained operational, and the boilers that still worked needed constant repairs. Because of the increasing costs of propane, the school district had two options — continue fixing the remaining boilers with a reduced maintenance staff, or replace the boilers altogether.

They decided on the latter. Dave Kerr, former superintendent of Prairie Schools District #4, researched replacement options. When he discovered biomass, he felt he had struck gold. Biomass had a lot of benefits: fuel was inexpensive and price-stable, it was good for the economy, it was environmentally sustainable and it would help continue the development of biomass energy in Grant County.

Kerr got support from the school board and secured funding through a Quality Zone Academy Bond. Next, the school board asked for bids, ultimately awarding Wisewood the construction contract. From design to completion, the Prairie City School District #4 biomass system took about nine months to complete.

Completed in October 2012, the wood pellet-fueled system provides both steam and hot water, heating the entire main high school, middle school and connected elementary school (totaling 70,000 square feet). Prairie City School's biomass system is the newest within the Grant County biomass cluster — which includes the Grant Union Junior/Senior High School, Blue Mountain Hospital, Grant County Regional Airport and Malheur Lumber Company.