boon·dog·gle (bo̵̅o̅n′däg′əl, -dôg′-)
noun – a trifling or pointless project, expenditure, etc.; now esp., one financed by public funds
As described in this article “New wood energy project keeps Tok School warm” FDNM 12/6/2010, trees and slash cleared from firebreaks will fuel a new steam boiler.
This is not your neighbor’s outdoor wood boiler (OWB) on steroids. The design of the Tok school’s new 5.5-million-BTU steam boiler is more similar to the design and efficiency of a power plant. According to the article, “It burns at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and generates very little smoke, thanks to air that moves up through the wood chips and fans the flame…. Any smoke is removed by an electrostatic precipitator, which electronically charges smoke particles out of the exhaust.”
Its cost is another matter entirely. Over the boiler’s “30-year life span,” its $3,950,000 cost pencils out to be more than $131,000 a year. According to Gateway school district Superintendent Todd Poage, it will “save” an estimated $125,000 per year on fuel.
Hmm, since when are $6,000 in annual amortized losses for 30 years considered a “savings”? Real savings may occur if the firebreaks prevent costly fires near developed areas, yet the firebreaks were being laid in regardless. If you discount the capital cost paid by the State of Alaska, sure, it is a savings.