Maine company part of wood boiler pact

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BANGOR (AP) – A Millinocket company is among 10 outdoor wood boiler manufacturers that have agreed to sell cleaner boiler models under a voluntary program negotiated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Under the voluntary guidelines, the manufacturers agreed to begin selling at least one boiler model by this spring that emits 70 percent fewer emissions over most models on the market today.

The participating manufacturers, including Millinocket-based Clean Wood Heat LLC, account for 80 percent of all outdoor wood boilers sold in the U.S., according to the EPA.

The EPA announced the program on Monday, the same day a coalition of air quality officials from Northeastern states unveiled model rules that would enable governments to regulate pollution emissions from the furnaces.

The Maine Legislature is expected in the weeks ahead to consider different measures to deal with the boilers, which have grown in popularity as homeowners seek cheaper fuel alternatives to heating oil and natural gas. Outdoor wood boilers are detached wood-fired units that heat water used for domestic consumption and heating.

But as the popularity of the boilers has grown, so has the number of complaints about the smoke that can waft onto people’s property and pose health problems.

David Littell, commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, said the EPA’s voluntary standards are a step in the right direction but probably not strict enough for the state.

The DEP is seeking legislative authorization to begin drafting rules regulating boiler emissions. The department would likely work from the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management model, which DEP staff members helped develop, Littell said.

“This is the position that we wanted to be in, to have a common regulatory approach across the Northeast,” Littell said.

NESCAUM’s model rules would outlaw the sale or installation after March 2008 of boilers that emit more than 0.44 pounds of particle pollution per million British thermal units contained in the wood fuel.

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