Maine schools, other facilities slash heating bills with stimulus project

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, April 21, 2014

Years after federal stimulus dollars funded a Maine Forest Service project to heat with local wood products, schools and other facilities report they have slashed energy bills in half while supporting jobs in the state’s struggling timber industry.

However, some project managers say because they had to borrow money to participate, the effort left them with hefty repayment plans that make their net savings far less than they appear.

In the heating season ending in 2013, the Forest Service credited its Wood to Energy Grant Program with helping 24 facilities replace upward of 900,000 gallons of heating oil with locally produced wood chips and pellets that provide the same energy output for less than half the price.

The Forest Service said the project created or retained more than 335 jobs during the construction phase and supports 13 other forestry jobs through increased usage of wood fuel.

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