Peterborough’s Froling Energy looks to Keene property for expansion

  • A Froling Energy wood chip truck delivers biomass fuel to the University of New Hampshire. Courtesy photo—

  • Froling Energy's Peterborough facility. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, March 04, 2019 5:32PM

Peterborough’s Froling Energy is currently looking to move to a new location in order to expand its facilities.

Froling Energy, located on Hancock Road in Peterborough, specializes in installing wood pellet and wood chip boiler systems and processes the wood chips that fuel them.

The company has outgrown its current 2.5 acre property in Peterborough, said Mark Froling, president of Froling Energy in an interview Monday.

“Our current property, we have wetlands all around us, and there’s no expansion potential at all,” Froling said. “We’re already at the limits of what this property can take, and we already know we have to increase production for next year.”

Froling Energy has been in contact with the city of Keene about purchasing a portion of land the city currently uses for its Department of Public Works facilities. The property as a whole is about 30 acres and was used until the 60s and 70s as the city’s landfill. Froling has discussed subdividing the land and using the front 10 acres to construct a new facility, Keene City Manager Elizabeth Dragon said Monday.

Froling said the new facility is anticipated to cost between $1.5 and $2 million and will be about 40,000 square feet, which is about four times as big as the company’s current facilities.

The need to expand is mostly related to the increasing demand for the wood chips Froling Energy produces, Froling said. Currently, the company produces about 7,000-8,000 tons of wood chips annually. Within the next year, Froling anticipates increasing production by 30 percent and sees more growth on the horizon.

The additional production will also increase the need for employees, Froling said, though he anticipates a small number of additional jobs, going from 15 employees to about 20.

Froling said the company has been looking for a larger property to relocate to in order to build a new facility. They have looked at properties in several surrounding towns, including in Peterborough, but said the Keene property is the top contender.

“Froling approached us about it. The property has been for sale in the past, and the city has put it out for bid, but because of the environmental complications of the site, there hasn’t been much interest,” Dragon said.

Keene’s finance, operation and personnel committee met last week with Froling Energy representatives about the plan and has made a recommendation to the City Council to approve Dragon to negotiate the sale of the property with Froling Energy. The City Council is scheduled to meet on Thursday to take an official vote on the recommendation, Dragon said.

Because of its former use as a landfill, the property would have to undergo an environmental review process before a facility can be built there. Froling said he anticipates that process to take at least a year.

Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Director Sean Ryan said in an interview Monday that Froling Energy has been “majorly invested” in Peterborough. Its employees have been regular volunteers or contributors to Chamber of Commerce events, and the town of Peterborough has converted several of its buildings to Froling Energy boiler systems, including the Town House, police department, and community center.

“There are development opportunities in the area for industry,” Ryan said, adding Peterborough does have some areas zoned for industry available. “Manufacturing and industry help to offset our tax base. It’s just trying to find the right fit for the company.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.