White Mountain Community College students toured Burgess BioPower during planned outage

White Mountain Community College students tour Burgess BioPower during its planned, semi-annual outage to see real-world applications of concepts learned in the classroom. From left: Jeffery Harington, Burgess BioPower Maintenance Manager Scott Bennett, Samuel Stiles, Sawyer Sanschagrin, WMCC industrial mechanics instructor Kyle Aubut, and Donald Taber review equipment and operations in the facility’s turbine building. (COURTESY PHOTO)

BERLIN — White Mountain Community College students toured Burgess BioPower during its planned, semi-annual maintenance outage to see real-world applications of concepts learned in the classroom.

The plant’s regularly scheduled outages provide vital operational pauses for important plant maintenance — and in this case, a key opportunity for learning.

Four students from the college’s industrial mechanics program toured the facility.

The program prepares students to do many tasks in power plants, including installing and maintaining conveyor systems, generators and large gas and steam turbines, and carrying out precision work and industrial maintenance.

Kyle Aubut, industrial mechanics program coordinator at White Mountains Community College, has plans to grow the program over the coming years.

“White Mountain Community College is a vital resource for the North Country. In fact, we have four WMCC alumni working in the facility today,” said Scott Bennett, maintenance manager at Burgess BioPower. “It was an honor giving a tour to future industrial mechanics, showing them projects that they are currently training to handle on their own in the future. We enjoy helping students who are pursuing careers in the trades see first-hand the challenges and opportunities that power-generation work presents. We want to support the programs that provide skilled millwrights that we and other industries in the area need. I hope these students look to Burgess BioPower for jobs once they complete their programs; we would be thrilled to have them join our team.”

“Before joining White Mountain Community College, I was a contractor who worked at Burgess BioPower during previous planned, semi-annual outages. I knew a tour of the facility would be a great way to show real-world examples of concepts and topics that we’re discussing in class,” said Aubut. “Many of our program graduates will be working in facilities just like Burgess BioPower, so seeing the rotating equipment like the pumps, conveyers, gearboxes, screws, boilers and the turbine up close helped them understand how these individual pieces contribute to the facility’s larger goal of creating electricity.”

Students observed up-close the work required to maintain a biomass plant. They saw the fuel handling system and discussed the wear these systems endure with handling hundreds of tons of wood every hour, along with the maintenance materials and procedures that are necessary to maintain them in working condition 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Burgess BioPower employees reviewed welding methods, rigging techniques and required safety methods with the students as well. Team members also showed students the steam and power generation areas of the plant, discussing the preventative maintenance measures necessary to ensure the equipment works exactly as it should.

“My students were very impressed by the number of projects taking place, and the number of contractors and in-house personnel needed for completing the projects in just eight short days,” said Aubut. “They came away with a better understanding of how the skills they are learning can be used in the real world and with an appreciation for the interesting and rewarding career paths they can take with these skills.”

Burgess BioPower is a state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly, 75 MW biomass power plant located on the site of a former pulp and paper mill in Berlin.

It is a major contributor toward helping New Hampshire meet its mandated renewable energy goals. Among the 10 largest biomass power plants in the United States, Burgess BioPower meets the most stringent emissions standards by utilizing the most advanced combustion and emissions control technology.

Burgess BioPower operates under a 20-year power purchase agreement with Eversource.

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