Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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December 7, 2012


Royalton considers geothermal heating

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — ROYALTON — While they may not be inspired by a church in Wolcottsville, the Royalton Town Board is looking into a geothermal replacement heating system for its highway garage. 

St. Michael’s Lutheran Church is already doing it, and the hamlet on the southeast corner of Niagara County is on the cutting edge of green technology.

”We’re just about as green as we can be,” said pastor Bruce Donley, who has been at the church for seven years. St. Michael’s, which was founded over 150 years ago, has solar panels on the roof and 28,000 feet of polyethene piping below the ground. 

The $190,000 project for the church and the house is in its final phase and a Buffalo Geothermal Heating crew is working to get heat in the church by Sunday.

Oil bills at St. Michael’s, which was built in the 1950s, range from $15,000 to $16,000 a year. With geothermal, the heating cost could be cut to $5,000.

 “The big reason we’re doing it is to save money,” Donley said.

The solar panels, which were installed on the roof earlier this year, will help pay the electric bill. Electricity will power the geothermal units. The meter runs backwards if the church is not using power.

Town board member Bradley Rehwahlt, who has 38 years of construction experience, said the town has been considering geothermal heating for a few years. He was recently certified as a green builder and

Reywaldt Builders has put geothermal heating units in four of the last six houses he’s built.

Rehwahlt recommends it for all new builds. While retro-fit costs are higher, the initial extra cost of geothermal could be made up in three or four years.

”If you’re building a new house, I don’t care where it is, you put geothermal in,” said Todd Schmigel, president of Buffalo Geothermal who is supervising the Wolcottsville project. “For every dollar you spend, you’re creating four dollars in heat.”

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