Bangor eyes new boiler rules to lower heating costs

Posted July 23, 2008, at 12 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 27, 2011, at 11:49 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine&nbsp- An ordinance amendment that would expand installation options for wood-fired boilers in some parts of Bangor is headed to the City Council for a decision.

As it stands, city ordinances allow wood-burning boilers to be used only if they are located within the primary structure that they serve.

The move to amend the rules to allow the boilers to be installed in separate structures stems from a recommendation that the city convert some of its largest heating oil consumers to wood heat as a way to get out from under crushing heating oil costs.

“We know that staying with oil heat is really not an option,” Councilor Patricia Blanchette said Tuesday during a meeting of the council’ s transportation and infrastructure committee. She noted that the ordinance amendment would be a first step toward weaning the city of its dependency on foreign oil.

The amendment, if approved during a council meeting on July 28, would become effective 10 days after passage.

For now it would apply only to certain zoning districts, specifically government and institution service, industrial and service, urban industrial, and airport development, though it one day might be expanded to include residential areas.

After a citywide energy audit completed late last year, engineers from Westbrook-based Honeywell Building Solutions recommended that the city consider converting Bangor High School and Bangor International Airport to heating systems fueled by wood chips.

In both cases, Honeywell engineers recommend that the boilers be installed in auxiliary buildings.

A new stand-alone structure is proposed for the school, while the airport system would be located in one of the hangars and used to heat possibly five other structures.

A comparison of heating costs presented to the council committee by Honeywell engineer Bob Marcotte earlier this month indicated the conversion could allow Bangor to generate the same amount of heat with wood as with oil at about a quarter the cost.

The cost of buying and installing the units aside, the estimates showed the city could generate 1 million Btu of heat for $37.95 if oil cost $4.25 a gallon. Wood chips at $60 a ton would yield the same amount of heat at a cost of $8.93.

Honeywell consultants pegged the cost of installing a wood chip boiler at the high school, which consumes more than 125,000 gallons of heating fuel a year, at $2.3 million.

The airport boiler, which would serve the domestic and international arrival buildings and four large hangars, would cost $3.8 million.

The city and its school department, however, might not be the only beneficiaries.

During Tuesday’ s meeting, a representative from a local trucking and wood waste recycling company said the ordinance amendment would allow it to operate the outdoor wood boiler it recently bought but has been unable to use because of the current rules.

J.D. Raymond Transport Inc. wants to use wood to heat its garage and service center at 690 Odlin Road, Controller William Rayfield said.

In a letter this month to the city’ s code enforcement division, Rayfield and John Raymond, the company’ s president, said that at current market prices, the company would save more than $20,000 a year by switching from oil to wood.

dgagnon@bangordailynews.net

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