FRYEBURG – With a forestry building expanded this year to include displays on natural resources, several companies and organizations are at the Fryeburg Fair to discuss renewable energy.

Judy Haynes, superintendent of the fair’s Natural Resource Center, said the building had been the Forest Resource Center since 1990. She said the fair’s finance committee decided to expand the scope of the building after rising fuel costs led to more discussion of alternative energy.

The Colebrook, N.H., company Smart Energy of New England displayed a vertical wind turbine outside the building. Inside, the company offered displays of solar panels for use in generating hot water and electricity.

“We really like to focus on what product can save the most and get the best payback,” said David Belanger, co-owner of the company.

Belanger said he felt more state and federal credits and rebates are needed to induce people to install alternative energy systems. He said that with savings on energy bills, solar thermal systems pay for themselves within five or six years, while electric systems can take up to 30 years.

Co-owner Jean-Pierre Paquette said that energy costs make up a large part of the family budget, and that several visitors were frustrated with their costs.

“We’re like psychologists,” he said. “We get all the frustration away.”

Benjamin Bond of Central Maine Geothermal in Waterville said the higher price of heating oil has led to more business and interest in geothermal technologies.

“There’s definitely been a lot of interest,” Bond said. “It’s been a good opportunity to educate people.”

In a geothermal system, a pump draws trapped solar heat out of the ground and compresses it for use in heating buildings. Bond said the energy savings offset the installation cost within seven or eight years.

Kaes Sullivan-Keizer of Maine Energy Systems in Bethel displayed a fully-automated wood-pellet heating system outside the building. Wood pellets are created from recycled wood products.

“Everyone seems to be interested in wood pellets, and they like that they can use a fuel that’s made in Maine,” Sullivan-Keizer said.

He said the pellets cost about half as much as oil.


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