Bucksport paper mill gears up for $40M upgrades

The Verso Papermill in Bucksport in 2007.
Gabor Degre | BDN File
The Verso Papermill in Bucksport in 2007.
Posted May 03, 2011, at 11:51 a.m.
Last modified May 03, 2011, at 1:42 p.m.

BUCKSPORT, Maine — The Verso Paper Co. mill is gearing up to start construction of its $40 million upgrade of the No. 8 biomass boiler and to install a new steam turbine at the mill.

The company ceremoniously broke ground on the project last November, but the bulk of the construction work will be done this year beginning in June, according to Verso spokesman Bill Cohen.

“There’s a lot of planning and engineering work going on, but the physical construction work inside the mill will resume in June,” Cohen said Monday.

Initially, he said, work will concentrate on improvements to the wood receiving and handling area. Later in the year, work will begin on upgrading the No. 8 boiler. Much of the planning that is being done is to ensure that there is no disruption in mill operations while work is being done, Cohen said.

The upgrades are expected to be completed and the boiler to be up and running again before the end of the year.

The mill relies mainly on a gas-fired turbine to run its operations. The No. 8 boiler now runs occasionally providing electricity and steam for the mill. With the upgrades, which are designed so that the boiler burns more types of biomass material more efficiently, the boiler will generate steam to operate the new turbine. The turbine will provide electricity that can be used in the mill or sold to the regional power grid.

According to Cohen, the turbine is being constructed by a supplier off site. It is expected to be delivered by the end of the year or just into 2012.  Initial plans called for the turbine to begin operating in early spring next year.

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