CLEVELAND, Ala. (WHNT) - Poultry growers across the state have been having problems keeping their chicken houses warm during the shortage of propane. But a company in Huntsville may have a solution to the problem. Lee Energy Solutions makes heating systems that use wood pellets. The heating units and the fuel are all produced here in north Alabama. But, they're heating homes and chicken houses all over the country.
"And with this right here, since I put it in, I haven't used hardly any propane," says poultry farmer Rickey Huffstutler. He added, "I'm planning on it cutting my overhead pretty good."
Huffstutler says he saw the writing on the chicken house wall some time ag and just recently he invested in a new heating system for his chicken houses. Instead of propane, he now relies on a cheaper and renewable source of energy, wood pellets.
"Now with this deal that's going on now, who knows what the price of propane's gonna be," Huffstutler says.
Lee Energy Solutions makes the heating systems in Huntsville. The pellets are produced at a facility on Sand Mountain. Company representative Donnie Bullard says the entire system is completely automated.
"He puts the temperature inside that he wants the house, this computer takes over and as it calls for it, it pulls pellets in, lights the firebox and we pump the heat comes off the heat exchanger and goes through the inlet tube into the house," Bullard says. He explained to WHNT News 19 it's a drier and cleaner heat and he says there's no shortage of wood.
Bullard says they're getting calls from South Carolina, Rhode Island, Kentucky, from all over from poultry growers in an emergency situation looking for any type of reliable heat they can get to keep their businesses operating. He says they're also getting a lot of calls from ordinary homeowners who are looking for ways to keep their homes warm during this brutal winter.
Bullard says the company is producing the heating units as quickly as they can. He says they're also looking for additional personnel to help with the installation of the larger systems. Bullard says they have much smaller systems available capable of heating an entire home.