The Provincial Correctional Centre at Sleepy Hollow is one of 22 government buildings included in the biomass heating proposal. (Google Street View)

A western P.E.I. business is hoping for a sizable expansion of its operation that uses wood chips harvested from Island forests to heat government buildings.

Wellington-based Atlantic BioHeat is already providing biomass heating at the Evangeline and West Isle schools. It's now forming a new venture, PEI Bioheat, and trying to win a 20-year contract with the province to provide biomass heating for up to 32 publicly-owned buildings.

The offer is in response to a request for proposals put out by the province six months ago. The government's tender includes 22 schools, four manors, three hospitals, and the provincial correctional centre.

PEI BioHeat representative Mathieu Arsenault said his company's bioheating plan is a sustainable one.

"There's a lot of forests that are ready for thinning. So they're too dense and there's nothing growing in them anymore. So they've become stagnant," said Arsenault.

"Basically the idea is that you're helping the forest by doing that thinning, allowing for other trees to grow. You thin somewhere, and you get enough wood for all the furnaces and you move to another area. And you just keep going and then you do a rotation."

Arsenault estimates thinning just three per cent of P.E.I.'s forests would provide enough wood chips to run the 32 furnaces for 10 to 15 years. That would save burning about four million litres of oil a year.

For mobile device users: Should P.E.I. be getting more energy from its forests?