BREWER, Maine — There is a new renewable fuel service in town that sells an automated wood pellet heat system, delivers the pellets in bulk and services the equipment so customers don’t have to dirty their hands or worry about their pipes freezing.
“We do everything the oil companies do, but we don’t deliver oil,” Lee Landry, managing partner of ReVision Heat, said Thursday.
Landry, a 1987 Bangor High School graduate, started his career as an oil burner technician and got involved with his new business after he “realized there was a whole realm of [clean energy] technologies” that are underused.
Parent company ReVision Energy has worked with solar hot water and electricity and wind technologies, and now is partnering with Corinth Wood Pellet Manufacturing for the ReVision Heat fuel service.
The group is tapping into the wood pellets fuel industry, which exploded last year in Maine when oil prices reached $4 a gallon.
“We’re starting a new company to basically bring delivery and equipment and service to the area,” Landry said. “We’re partnering with Corinth Wood Pellets to provide the fuel and Maine Energy Systems” as well as Maine Eco Pellet Heating LLC for the specialized wood pellet heating systems.
The new wood pellet fuel service will provide bulk delivery service in the Bangor region and in the Portland area, where a branch office is located.
“There hasn’t been anything like this, ever,” Landry said. “An automated heating system that burns pellets hasn’t been available. If you want to stop buying oil, we’ll help you.”
Austrian inventor Herbert Ortner, a founder of Maine Eco Pellet Heating, brought his OkeFEN wood pellet heating system to Maine and is manufacturing the units in Bethel in a Maine Energy System warehouse.
“We were planning on buying the same boiler from Austria, but now he’s going to build the boilers right here in Maine, and we’re going to be installing them,” Landry said. “These are central heating systems that run on wood pellets. They’re completely automated and have bulk storage and they’re self-cleaning.”
The only thing customers who purchase the OkeFEN pellet stoves will have to do is occasionally clean out a storage bin that compresses the unit’s ash.
“Once or twice a heating season, they will have to empty an ash tray,” Landry said.
The specialized wood pellet heating system heats up to 25,000 square feet, and with the bulk storage units costs between $12,000 and $20,000, Laundry said.
The company is preparing to install a unit at the Unity Library, and Maine Energy Systems, the state’s first U.S. distributor for the OkoFEN, has installed a unit at Gould Academy in Bethel and another one is going into the Gardiner Public Works garage.
George Soffron, Corinth Wood Pellet Manufacturing’s chief executive officer, said the partnership taps the state’s vast forest resources to provide renewable green energy and “meet the needs of the mainstream consumer.”
“It’s cost effect is great for Maine with our high oil costs and trees everywhere,” he said.
The cost of pellets, which is about $250 a ton, is “about 25 percent cheaper” than oil, Soffron said
“Using pellets is like paying $2.08 [a gallon] for oil right now,” he said. “There is a huge savings.”
Another advantage is that the price of pellets is fairly consistent and doesn’t fluctuate in the same manner as foreign crude oil.
“The real reason [to switch to wood pellets] is to protect yourself from flux in oil prices,” he said.
The good news for Mainers is that there are viable options to heating a house without oil, Landry said.
“We’re all about the environment here,” he said. “We finally feel like we have a solution to the [state’s dependence on foreign oil] and we want to shout it from the mountain tops.”
To educate people in the area about the new wood pellet-fired central heating systems, Ortner will host a presentation in Bangor from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Rangeley Hall at Eastern Maine Community College. A second presentation is planned for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.