Maine Forest Service cuts ribbon at two pellet boiler projects

By Luke Geiver | March 16, 2012

Waterville, Maine, High School students will now have the opportunity to study wood pellet heat in person. Through the Maine Forest Service’s Wood-to-Energy Public Building Program, the school and city hall in Gardiner officially cut the ribbon on wood pellet boiler installation projects.

Each boiler will provide more than $105,000 per year in energy savings and create 23 new jobs. Earlier this week, the MFS held separate ribbon cutting ceremonies to announce the completion of the installation projects.

The Maine Forest Service used part of the $11.4 million it received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to fund the boiler installation projects. To date, the Wood-to-Energy Public Building Program has funded 22 biomass boiler projects in municipalities, schools, colleges, universities and a hospital.

At the Gardiner project site, two Maine Energy Systems OkoFen wood pellet boilers in a modular energy box structure were installed at the City Hall by Heutz Premium Pellets of Lewiston. Over the next 25 years, the $122,000 project will generate $195,000 in energy savings. The building also received a $61,000 ARRA grant. The municipality was the first in the state to install a modular wood pellet boiler system.

The $2 million Waterville High School project included a biomass boiler and the installation of fuel storage and handling areas. According to the school, the project will reduce heating costs by 40 percent. In addition to the funding provided through the MFS, the school also received $750,000 through an ARRA grant.

Bill Beardsley, commissioner for the Maine Department of Conservation, said he was pleased that both organizations had the foresight to make such significant infrastructure investments. “Local officials not only are supporting their own residents and taxpayers, but they also are making an important contribution to Maine’s forest-product industry and our energy independence,” he said.