STRONG — Former SAD 58 Superintendent Quenten Clark regularly told his visitors that Maine was the Saudi Arabia of wood. Maine has lots and lots of wood, which is a renewable resource, he'd say.
On Saturday, Oct. 13, Clark will be one of several presenters at the Maine Pellet Summit at the Strong Elementary School. The free daylong event hosted by the Western Maine Community Action Program begins at 8 a.m. It will bring together engineers and bio-based energy systems experts, forest-based economic and conservation initiatives advocates. Facilities' managers and representatives from Maine schools, colleges, municipalities and hospitals can network and talk with pellet boiler and furnace vendors, organizer William Crandall said.
Several wood-pellet-heating systems were funded by grant money from the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act stimulus program. The Maine Forest Service's Wood to Energy Program supervised 22 biomass conversions.
The city of Gardiner and Waterville High School were among the first to complete the transfer to wood pellet boilers.
Crandall said the goal is to inspire attendees to return to their own communities, schools and towns with ways to pursue wood-to-energy solutions. Heating municipal buildings, schools, businesses, churches and other organizations with wood can produce savings to pay for the infrastructure investments within a few years. Both the Strong municipal building and the Strong Elementary School now heat with pellet boilers, and the Geneva Wood Products pellet mill contributes to the town's tax base and employs several people.
"At the 2010 town meeting, our Energy Team and selectmen asked voters to approve an energy ordinance and any additional funding to install a pellet boiler," Selectman Milt Baston said.
Since taxpayers paid $9,676 for fuel oil and $2,135 for electricity in 2009, Baston said, voters didn't hesitate. An Efficiency Maine grant helped pay for an on-demand hot water heater, building insulation, and other energy-saving improvements. Baston has been invited to share some of the details of the process for the Saturday audience and provide a chance to see the boiler at the Forster Memorial Building.
"After afternoon presentations, local officials will give tours of the SAD 58 installations, the Strong town office, and the pellet mill," Crandall said.
Lunch is provided, and although the day's events are free, preregistration is requested, he said. For more information, contact Mark Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (207) 860-4467. Preregister online at wmca.org.