PARIS — It appears that the Oxford Hills School District biomass boiler may arrive in January after all.
School officials have been informed that the delay in the boiler's arrival from Austria may now be only a month or so. The boiler was due to arrive next week and be fired up at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School on Jan. 5.
“We believe and we hope. We're fairly confident,” Project Manager John Parsons said.
The new date will mean that the boiler from the Viessmann Group in Austria can be used this winter.
The proposed $2 million-plus conversion project from oil to wood chips at the school was planned to address escalating fuel costs and to make the district more energy independent by reducing the use of foreign oil.
The biomass furnace, which is being paid for, in part, by a $750,000 state Department of Conservation grant, is expected to save the district as much as $120,000 a year in annual fuel costs and cut the consumption of No. 2 fuel oil. Two of the three oil burners will remain in place to supplement heat in the shoulder seasons of fall and spring and in case the biomass furnace goes down during the winter.
Siemens Technology officials were hired by the school district last year to oversee the biomass furnace project. Siemens hired the Viessmann Group, a leading manufacturer of heating and renewable heating systems, to build the school's biomass furnace.
Last month school officials announced that the arrival of the furnace would be delayed more than two months after it was determined that a misunderstanding of process orders delayed its arrival. A Maine representative of the manufacturing company went to Europe to find out what the problem was.
Parsons said he spoke to the Viessmann representative who saw the school's boiler in Austria and it was determined there was a miscommunication about a 25-item checklist, which had to be signed off by Siemens Technology.
While school officials await the arrival of the boiler, Bancroft Corp., a subcontractor for Siemens, has been building the boiler room and renovating existing space at the high school to house the unit. The walls on the 584-square-foot boiler room have been put in place in the back of the high school near the old industrial arts classrooms.
Originally a 40-foot-high, free-stranding smoke stack was to be built for the fumes, but Parsons said they were able to run the pipe into an existing flu, which will look better and still do the job efficiently.
The furnace will be shipped in two containers and arrive in New York where it will be picked up by Cote Corp. rigging service of Auburn and taken to their plant before being transported to the Paris site, Parsons said. Thayer Corp. of Auburn will also be involved in getting the boiler up and running.
The unit is custom-made in Austria is not an “off the shelf" item, Parsons said. Although there are other boiler manufacturers in North America, they are not custom-made for this particular project.
“They have the best technology and the most experience,” he said of the Austrian made boilers. While the costs of shipping the boiler will be higher, Parsons said the quality and efficiency will quickly pay back that expense.
The overall project will also add other solar initiatives including LED lighting and sensors in the high school parking lot and equipment to heat water in the locker-room showers in the summer.