Natural gas company eyes contract for UMaine Machias

Posted Oct. 02, 2013, at 6:08 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 02, 2013, at 7:41 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — A winning proposal submitted by Boston-based Xpress Natural Gas is expected to lead to an agreement to supply compressed natural gas for the University of Maine Machias campus, company officials announced.

The company’s top-scoring proposal was submitted in response to a request from the University of Maine System for a multi-campus thermal energy agreement.

Pending a final agreement, Xpress Natural Gas would begin work in the spring in order to have all buildings on campus piped and using natural gas by the start of the 2014-15 academic year.

The changeover will save the Machias campus an estimated $90,000 annually in fuel costs, according to University of Maine Machias spokesman Erik Smith. The cost of the project has not been determined yet, he said.

The change to natural gas also has important environmental benefits for the university and underscores its overall sustainability commitment, the company noted.

A recent report by the University of Maine System shows that  University of Maine Machias already has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions from heating and electricity by 44 percent since 2006, the largest reduction among the seven University of Maine System campuses.

The switch from heating oil to natural gas will enable the university to go further, reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent.

Xpress Natural Gas will will use local contractors to complete the design and fit-out work, the company said.

“[Xpress Natural Gas] is honored to have been ranked as the top-scoring proposal submitted to UMS,” Xpress Natural Gas president John Nahill said in a statement the company issued Tuesday.

Nahill added that Xpress Natural Gas and the University of Maine Machias “have great partnership potential. … It’s enormously exciting to even be considered.”

Founded in 2011, the company supplies compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas to customers in New England, New York, New Jersey and Eastern Canada.

Xpress Natural Gas has a compressor station in Baileyville which compresses natural gas from the Maritimes and Northeast pipeline. In January, the company partnered with Dead River Co. to truck compressed natural gas from Baileyville to large customers.

Compressed natural gas is easier to store and transport via tractor-trailers, and it can reach customers in areas that aren’t currently served by traditional pipeline infrastructure, according to officials with Xpress Natural Gas.

In May, the Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle, one of Xpress Natural Gas’ customers, became the first facility in the state to transition to be 100 percent run on compressed natural gas, according to hospital officials. Sylvia Getman, the hospital’s president and CEO, said the savings is projected to be between $400,000 and $500,000 per year.

Xpress Natural Gas is also trucking natural gas to Great Northern Paper’s East Millinocket mill and Naturally Potatoes in Mars Hill.

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