$3.2 million in energy-conversion grants awarded in Maine

By Ramona du Houx - February 18th, 2010 · 

A University of Maine Cooperative Extension and six Maine schools are moving forward with oil-to-wood heating projects with the announcement that they will collectively receive more than $3.2 million in federal recovery funds. These energy grants are managed by the Maine Forest Service (MFS), under the Maine Department of Conservation. (MDOC)

The projects not only are expected to reduce dependency on fuel oil, but also to create new green jobs and to support Maine’s forest-products industries.

“Maine has tremendous sustainable natural resources,” said Governor John Baldacci. “It’s critical we continue to put them to work to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Doing so strengthens our economy as more green jobs are created. These grants help us to do that.”

According to figures from the Maine Forest Service the projects combined will annually avoid the burning of almost 263,000 gallons of oil, re-circulate $600,000 in fuel dollars into Maine’s economy, and stop more than 5 million pounds of emissions being created from fossil fuels.

“Developing markets for wood grown in Maine is an important achievement,” said MDOC Commissioner Eliza Townsend. “I am proud of the role that this department has played in keeping our forests as forest while developing jobs in Maine.”

The six funded projects include:

• MSAD 17– Oxford Hills High School; awarded $750,000 for the installation of a wood chip boiler to supplement the current heating system. The boiler will supplant approximately 90 percent of the current oil consumption at the high school. The estimated total project cost is $1,747,551.

• University of Maine Cooperative Extension — Presque Isle Office; awarded $16,575 for the installation of a pellet boiler to replace the current oil boiler. The pellet boiler will displace approximately 1,850 gallons of fuel oil at the Presque Isle Extension office. The estimated project cost is $40,169, with the remainder of the project funded by a grant from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund.

• Greenville School Department — awarded $750,000 for the installation of a chip boiler to replace the current oil system. The chip boiler will displace approximately 36,000 gallons of fuel oil at the high/middle-school building and adjacent gymnasium. The total project cost is $1.8 million.

• MSAD 58 — Phillips Middle School, Phillips, ME; awarded $325,933 for the installation of a pellet boiler to supplement the current oil system and displace approximately 25,000 gallons of fuel oil. The total cost of the project is $419,039.

• RSU 16 — Poland Middle/High School; awarded $636,372 for the installation of a multi-fuel boiler to supplement current oil system and displace approximately 46,000 gallons of fuel oil. The total cost of the project is $712,785.

• RSU 29 — Houlton Junior/Senior High School; awarded $750,000 for the conversion of an oil boiler to a wood chip boiler to heat the school and the SAVE Vocational Technical Center, displacing 65,000 gallons of fuel oil. The total project cost is $1,374,650.

“These awards demonstrate the role that sustainable management of Maine’s forests can play in bolstering rural economics while also reducing the dangers posed by climate change as they both keep Maine monies in Maine and reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels,” said Maine Forest Service Director Alec Giffen.

A total of $11.4 million was made available to the state for the grants, with funding coming from the USDA Forest Service – Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry Division, to help primarily rural, economically depressed counties.

The Maine Forest Service called for proposals in October 2009. A total of 41 applications were received and reviewed by a six-member panel consisting of representatives of the Maine Forest Service, MDOC Commissioner’s office, USDA Forest Service and the Maine Bureau of General Services.

The awards are one-time recover act funds that must be spent or committed within two years.

Another round of applications will be called for this spring. Projects not receiving awards in this round will be able to reapply for the second round.

For more information, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/arra/

- See more at: http://maineinsights.com/perma/energy-conversion-grants-awarded#sthash.56R8lIPj.dpuf