Maine DEP Innovative Certification Allows Bethel Energy Business To Expand

August 24, 2011

CONTACT:
Samantha DePoy-Warren, Maine DEP Spokesperson/Director of Education & Outreach samantha.depoy-warren@maine.gov/207-287-5842

-The department’s decision to accept EU emissions testing as comparable to US federal standards means Maine Energy Systems will now be able to sell a new line of clean-burning pellet boilers, expanding their workforce and Mainers’ options for home heating-

AUGUSTA – A cutting-edge certification from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has allowed a Bethel-based energy systems company to expand its business and for Mainers to have more options when it comes to heating their homes during the state’s wooly winters.

Maine DEP has accepted European Union emission tests and certifications as comparable to the EPA emission certification for Phase 2 wood and pellet boilers, making it the first state in the country to do so.

This decision allows the DEP to issue certifications to Maine Energy Systems in Bethel, owned by Les Otten and Dutch Dresser, for five models of ÍkoFEN pellet boilers which the company can now sell in the state, the first in the nation to do so.

The European designed boilers are assembled in Maine. More than 35,000 are in use across the European continent.

Because the ÍkoFEN boilers can be installed in “energy boxes,” which are separate from occupied buildings, Maine law requires that they be treated as outdoor wood boilers in those installations and related environmental regulations.

Maine’s rules on outdoor wood boilers has a unique provision that allows the department to accept boiler certification programs other than the one used by EPA if deemed scientifically valid. After analyzing the method used to certify boilers in Europe, Maine developed a way to compare the European results to those obtained from the EPA test method, said Louis Fontaine, the Maine DEP Bureau of Air Quality scientist who led the process.

Accepting the European certification will result in a greater selection of clean and efficient wood and pellet boilers for Maine consumers and was a move embraced by Maine Energy Systems, he said. The company has created a dozen jobs over the last two years and hopes to create more jobs as a result of having its products certified and as they become more widely known as an alternative to fossil fuels.

The ÍkoFEN boilers utilize sophisticated air control and a highly-efficient heat transfer area to ensure a clean burn, and have an 85 percent efficiency rate.

The company estimates that the owner of an average sized home heated by pellet burning will have a carbon footprint reduction of about 16 tons per year over traditional fossil-fuel burning heating systems.

“I'm thrilled that the state is adapting existing regulations for new emerging technology,” said Maine Energy Systems’ Dresser. “To me, the interesting part of this is that DEP recognized the value of the product to Maine and used available test information to show our boilers are in compliance with existing federal EPA rules rather than blindly insisting that we retest the equipment at great costs in time and money.”

Dresser said the decision shows the department’s willingness to work with Maine businesses to benefit the state’s environment and its economy.

“The forward-looking Maine DEP’s work on this project allows for the rapid introduction of technically advanced products that are good for both home and business owners and for Maine environment and Maine economy,” he said.

Now that Maine, which is seen as a leader nationally in establishing wood boiler regulations, has pioneered the new certification, other states are expected to follow, Fontaine explained. Just this week, Vermont issued an interim certification to Maine Energy Systems for one of the ÍkoFEN boilers, specifically saying it relied on Maine DEP’s analysis in equating the EPA and EU standards.

“It’s important that Mainers know there are convenient, clean and efficient alternatives to provide heat for homes and businesses and the number of alternatives is growing,” explained Fontaine. “We at the Maine DEP are proud to be a part of a local small business expanding their workforce and at the same time, Mainers’ options for home heating.”

For more information about the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Air Quality, visit http://www.maine.gov/dep/air. For more information about Maine Energy Systems, visit http://www.maineenergysystems.com.

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