GLENS FALLS — Finch Paper officials would like to renovate their wood yard with a new chipper to accommodate longer wood, but they say the idea is in the early stages and dependent on outside funding.
Finch Chief Financial Officer Alex Rotolo said the renovation would build on the company’s last major capital project, completed in December 2015, which included reorganization of the yard and installation of new equipment that included a new debarker and allowed the plant to process 8-foot logs. That $10 million project was partly funded through a $1.8 million National Grid energy efficiency grant.
Rotolo said the debarker installed as part of that project is not being used to its fullest extent, because it could process wood up to 23 feet long.
“We could move to 16-foot wood. Our chipper is the limiting factor at 8-foot wood,” he said.
Rotolo said the company is sustainable and competitive using 8-foot-long wood, but would like to make further investments.
Finch Paper commissioned a study of the cost for a new 16-foot chipper, but there are hurdles for the company to get a return on its investment.
“What it does is it makes us more efficient. It improves our yield and we can make more of our own pulp here,” he said.
But it is not as simple as installing a new chipper — the entire wood yard would have to be reconfigured.
Finch Paper makes 80 percent of its own pulp currently. With shorter lengths of wood, Rotolo said that every time a log butt hits the chipper it makes bad chips that cannot be used.
Company officials have met with chipper suppliers to get quotes, but those are preliminary discussions, Rotolo said.
“I think it’s a low likelihood that it all comes together in the next 12 months to even start,” he said.
Finch Paper has to work out the financial details and reduce its cost to about $5 million. The company plans to seek a state grant through the Consolidated Funding Application.
“I am not doing the project without the funding,” he said.
The company wants to invest in the operation, which would help suppliers and the logging community.
“It’s important to us,” he said.