Exeter City Council looks set to become the first local authority in the West Country to heat its main buildings by 'green' wood-pellet-fuelled boilers.

The Council has announced that it intends to convert some of its main buildings from oil heating to biomass.

Under an agreement with the Energy Crops Company Limited, new boilers will be installed at three locations in the city - Belle Isle Nursery, St George's Hall and the Civic Centre - and a long-term supply of fuel pellets will be arranged at a price significantly below that of oil and gas.

The wood pellets are manufactured from waste wood and will provide a clean, safe and renewable source of energy. With the rising cost of oil, savings of over £12,000 per annum are expected from the use of the bio-fuel. The projects will also reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced from fossil fuels by over 300 tonnes each year. This will help the Council to fulfil its commitment to tackling climate change, which was reinforced recently by signing the Devon Wide Declaration on Climate Change and Fuel Poverty. Exeter will be the first Council in the West Country to convert to biomass heating. Once the new boilers are installed, Exeter will be one of the "greenest" councils in the country, easily exceeding all government targets for sustainable energy use.

Cllr Barry McNamara, Lead Councillor for Environment and Leisure, said: "This deal is a win, win situation - not only will we save money on fuel costs, but we will reinforce our credentials as a 'green' council caring for the environment." The Energy Crops Company provides affordable green heat at the touch of a button. It supplies boilers, storage systems and fuel to commercial and public sector clients. Compared with oil, cost savings of up to 30% can be achieved. The first new boiler installation planned is at the Belle Isle Nursery. A novel containerised solution will combine pellet storage with a boiler, pumps and control systems in a single unit. This will reduce installation time and accelerate the savings from conversion to oil.