Youth center to heat with pellets

Posted Jan. 28, 2010, at 7:47 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:06 p.m.

CHARLESTON, Maine — For some time now, the Charleston Correctional Facility has been heating its campus with wood heat furnished through the efforts of employees and inmates.

In the future, the Mountain View Youth Development Center will be among the first correctional facilities in the nation to heat with wood pellets.

It doesn’t stop there. The state also is looking at wind and solar power to make the facilities, located next door to each other, as self-sufficient as possible by going green, Eric Hansen, superintendent of both facilities, said Thursday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Gov. John Baldacci and Department of Corrections Commissioner Martin Magnusson announced the DOC has partnered with International WoodFuels, a Portland-based thermal energy provider, to install a metered wood pellet boiler with storage silo at the youth development center at no cost to the state.

The move will eliminate the center’s use of about 145,000 gallons of heating oil annually, further reducing the department’s overall consumption of heating fuel by 20 percent, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“My administration has made it a top priority to find new and innovative ways to reduce the reliance that state-owned facilities have on foreign energy sources,” Baldacci said in the release. He said the department has made great progress to reduce its consumption of fossil fuel, and the thermal heating system is a great example.

International WoodFuels, which entered into a 10-year agreement with the state, will monitor the system in real time over the Web, and pellets will be delivered as needed by the company. The company now is constructing its newest pellet manufacturing facility in Burnham.

While the boiler and silo will be provided free, the DOC will receive a monthly invoice for the metered Btu that the system consumes to heat the facility. The price per Btu consumed will be negotiated annually and will be determined by calculating specific economic factors, according to the press release.

The Legislature and the governor approved a new law that made it possible for state agencies to enter long-term energy service agreements to increase energy conservation, independence and security.

“Improved energy efficiency and security is a priority throughout state government and for the Department of Corrections,” Magnusson said. “It’s critical that we aggressively manage our energy costs particularly during these difficult financial times.”

The state also has undertaken a variety of ongoing and incremental efforts — such as improved or reduced lighting, weatherization, improved control and operation of building environmental systems, improved measurement of energy use and other conservation projects — all helping to reduce energy consumption, according to the press release.

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