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Governor LePage Announces Final Round of Federal Heating Conversion Grants

May 23, 2011

For Immediate Release: Monday, May 23, 2011 Contact: Adrienne Bennett (207) 287-2531 Jeanne Curran (207) 287-3156

Augusta, Maine – Governor Paul LePage announced today that 11 oil-to-wood heating projects are receiving $3.2 million in federal recovery funds.

The grants are the third and final round awarded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA) energy grants, which first were announced in August 2009 and awarded by the USDA Forest Service to the Maine Forest Service (MFS).

The Wood to Energy Grants Program awards, 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 Maine Forest Service.

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 the Maine Forest Service. “This program is about harvesting, processing, transporting and consuming more Maine wood,” Governor LePage said. “This all adds up to more Maine jobs.” All 22 ARRA grant recipients have committed to using Maine wood products for their new energy projects, according to MFS officials.

“The Maine Forest Service Wood to Energy Grants Program is helping schools, a community college, two branches of the University of Maine System, hospitals, towns and cities convert to a fuel supply that supports local forest land owners, local harvesters, local chippers and pellet manufacturers, and local haulers,” said Doug Denico, Maine Forest Service director. “In turn, the great forest resources of the state will support these important institutions with renewable, reliable, plentiful and economical fuel. It is the kind of win-win situation that is often spoken of, but that has now become a reality.”

“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 Round 3 awards are going to:

• 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 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 contact 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. The goals for the ARRA grant program are to create and retain jobs in Maine, to achieve energy savings through wood-to-energy installations, reduce dependence on non-renewable energy resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support sustainable forestry, according to Tom Wood, Maine Forest Service senior planner.

Criteria for the project selection included: the number of jobs created and preserved; unemployment rates; the size and scope of the project; community support; and amount of community funding, Wood said.

When completed, the latest projects will save the recipients between one half to two thirds on their annual heating bills, according to the MFS senior planner. In addition, rather than buying foreign oil, the grant recipients will purchase Maine wood processed and delivered by Maine workers, Wood pointed out.

“The local tax dollar spent on heat will now stay local, supporting local forest landowners, local harvesters, local chippers, and local haulers,” Wood said.

All combined, total awards have now reached $10.5 million. Remaining funds are being used for administration and for supporting the projects. When completed the total construction costs for all 22 projects in Maine will exceed $23.9 million.

In addition to the grant itself, the U.S. Forest Service continues to provide both technical and administrative assistance to the Maine Forest Service and to those receiving grants from the Maine Forest Service in the Wood to Energy Program.

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

Or by contacting the Wood to Energy Program at wood2energy@maine.gov

Or by contacting Thomas C. Wood, MFS senior planner, at (207) 287-3920.

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