December 11, 2019
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Plan to convert UMaine-Farmington to natural gas falls through

Courtesy photo | BDN
Courtesy photo | BDN
Kathryn A. Foster

BANGOR, Maine — A plan to convert the heating system at the University of Maine at Farmington was thwarted recently, when Summit Natural Gas informed the university the company could not commit to providing natural gas by 2016.

UMF had been given approval by the University of Maine System’s Board of Trustees to spend $11 million on the natural gas heating plant, which UMF President Kathryn Foster said would save the university millions of dollars over time and reduce its carbon footprint.

“In light of Summit’s decision, UMF will continue to explore alternative energy sources in its commitment to find the most viable fuel supply for the needs of the campus and economic development of the region,” Foster said in a statement released Friday.

Officials have been working since 2013 to secure the delivery of natural gas to the campus and reduce the university’s reliance on heating oil, the statement said.

The original proposal was for a project between $2 million and $4 million that would switch the campus’ 46 boilers to natural gas, but university officials earlier this year requested and were granted permission to pursue the $11 million project, which included a central heating plant with the capacity to service the entire campus.

“The University will continue to engage community stakeholders as it pursues additional energy opportunities to further the goal of reducing its reliance on heating oil, which will allow the campus to be more flexible in the future regarding the energy needed to carry out UMF’s educational mission,” the statement said.

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