11 projects in Maine awarded $3.2 million to convert from oil-to-wood heat

Posted May 23, 2011, at 5:30 p.m.
Last modified May 23, 2011, at 6:38 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Eleven oil-to-wood heating projects in Maine are receiving $3.2 million in federal stimulus funds, according to Gov. Paul LePage.

The Wood to Energy Grants Program grants are the third and final round awarded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.

The grants, awarded through the Maine Forest Service and ranging from $25,000 to $500,000, are going to Maine institutions across the state, including four schools, four towns, one college, one university and one hospital. The awards will help each institution convert from heating with oil to heating with wood chips or wood pellets, according to the MFS.

The grants are expected to support around 110 jobs through the construction phase of these projects, with on-going jobs benefits through the use of Maine wood. The latest projects are expected to use 2,171 tons of pellets and 3,035 tons of chips annually, according to MFS.

“This program is about harvesting, processing, transporting and consuming more Maine wood,” LePage said in a prepared statement. “This all adds up to more Maine jobs.”

 “Increased use of wood fuels provides significant energy, environmental and economic advantages for Maine schools, hospitals and public buildings,” said Ken Fletcher, director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security. “The OEIS supports these projects as steps forward in our need to curb the effects of oil dependence and to spur local economic development opportunities, including job creation potential of moving to clean, renewable, made-in-Maine energy resources.”

The projects and amounts are:

Carrabec High School, North Anson, Somerset County: $250,000 grant on a $500,000 project. The project converts four schools from oil heat to wood heat by using a series of wood pellet boilers.

City of Gardiner, Kennebec County: $61,000 grant on a $122,000 project. The project will convert City Hall to wood heat with a pair of pellet boilers.

Falmouth School Department, Cumberland County: $500,000 grant on a $1,991,500 project. By converting the middle school to a chip-fired boiler, the department expects to save around $90,000 a year on heating costs.

Fort Fairfield School/MSAD 20, Aroostook County: $500,000 grant on a $1,465,750 project. By converting the Fort Fairfield Elementary and Middle/High schools to wood heat, the first-year savings on fuel will exceed $80,000.

Messalonskee School, Oakland, Kennebec County: $500,000 grant on a $3,638,749 project. The project will connect a new wood chip boiler with three schools and the bus garage through a series of super-insulated pipes.

Millinocket Regional Hospital, Penobscot County: $258,978 grant on a $517,955 project. A wood-fired biomass boiler will be used to heat the hospital’s 70,000-square-foot facility.

Northern Maine Community College, Presque Isle, Aroostook County: $500,000 grant on a $985,726 project. This project will replace an oil-fired boiler that is more than 40 years old and will provide heating for the Christie Complex and the Mailman Trades Building.

Town of Mechanic Falls, Androscoggin County: $94,031 grant on a $189,031 project. A new pellet boiler is expected to reduce the heating bill for the town hall and the gymnasium.

Town of Strong, Franklin County: $25,000 grant on a $42,000 project. The project involves a pellet boiler used to heat the town hall.

Town of Thorndike, Waldo County: $25,000 grant on a $41,876 project. The town will use an economical mix of equipment, materials, and labor combined with some contract work to create a new town hall with pellet wood heat.

University of Maine at Fort Kent, Aroostook County: $500,000 grant on an $858,000 project. The new project is being designed capable of utilizing wood pellet or chips and will heat the UMFK Sports Center and Lodge. The sports center is an important multi-use facility that includes serving as the regional emergency shelter.

Additional information is available on the Maine Forest Service website at: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/arra/.

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