Bio-economy could be on the move: Green energy provider preparing for the long haul in delivering wood pellets to market.

Author:Ross, Ian
Position:Northwestern Ontario

Vince Rutter hopes a new provincial wood heat pilot program awarded to select Northern Ontario communities will provide a "starting line" to finally get the region's bioeconomy ball rolling.

In early May, Queen's Park dropped $6.7 million from its Green Ontario Fund into Sioux Lookout, Wawa, Wiikwemikoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island, and six Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities in northwestern Ontario.

It's an incentive program for residents and commercial property owners to switch out their inefficient wood stoves and heating systems for newer, cleaner burning wood technologies.

The same week, Rutter, the president of Biothermic Wood Energy Systems in Thunder Bay, showcased to the local media a new hook loader truck, designed to deliver bulk loads of wood pellets to residential and commercial users.

Though he said very complimentary things about the wood heating program in the government's May 2 news release, Rutter claims the timing of his announcement was just serendipitous, if not very advantageous to the growth of his five-year-old business.

The program, which offers free installation of new heating systems in the Indigenous communities and a generous rebate in the other towns, could help spur a movement toward installing larger systems.

Rutter, a professional forester and arborist, is very motivated to see the growth in modern wood heating.

"We're setting our sights, not on Ontario, but the whole country."

The $40,000 truck, equipped with a silo body capacity of 14 tonnes, four-inch hoses and a blower system, stands to be a turning point for the company, started in 2013. It's their second bulk delivery truck. They operate an older vehicle out of their Haliburton operation in central Ontario.

"It's a really typical delivery method in Europe and mimics the propane or fuel oil delivery system," said Rutter.

Biothermic is a dealer of Austrian-made clean-burning home and commercial-scale wood chip, pellet and firewood combustion boilers.

The company specializes in automated wood boilers for large homes, commercial and institutional buildings with large pellet storage and conveyance systems, a market that's been glacial to develop in Northern Ontario despite its abundant wood fibre.

Rutter readily admits he doesn't have a burgeoning order book that necessitated the need for the delivery truck.

"We don't have a customer base to pay for this truck. It doesn't exist. But you can't build a customer base without the truck being present,"...

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