April 22, 2018
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Two schools reject $1.05M in grants

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

The rejection by two schools of alternative-energy grants totaling slightly more than $1 million could prompt the reissuance of that money to other institutions, a Maine Forest Service official says.

Northern Maine Community College of Presque Isle decided not to accept a $750,000 grant that would have helped fund a conversion from an oil-burning heating system to a $2.2 million wood chip-fired boiler, said Tom Wood, a Maine Forest Service senior planner overseeing the grant process.

“Their financing took a dip and they just could not get quite enough money to cover it all,” Wood said Thursday. “It was very close.”

Lee Academy also rejected a portion of the $11.4 million in federal stimulus funds offered to eight institutions in Maine for alternative-energy upgrades. The academy’s board of directors unanimously voted last week to reject the $300,000 grant it won. The money would have helped buy a pellet boiler to heat three buildings and eliminate the need for about 26,600 gallons of fuel oil burned annually.

State officials will decide in the next several weeks what to do with the $1.05 million in rejected funds, Wood said. Ironically, NMCC and the academy have a very good chance of winning the funding yet again.

“Given how highly they scored, they would be very competitive,” Wood said.

The academy’s board rejected the grant because its members believed that with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expected to tighten regulations of boiler emissions sometime next year, buying the European-made boiler would have increased the project’s cost by as much as 30 percent, academy Headmaster Bruce Lindberg explained. Lindberg did not rule out reapplying, if that was economically viable.

The EPA regulation change likely will occur in mid-January and probably won’t be as stringent as originally feared, thus making an academy reapplication more viable, Wood said.

The $11.4 million in grants are the second round to be awarded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. The energy grants first were announced in August 2009 and administered through the Maine Forest Service under the Maine Department of Conservation, state officials said.

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