LEWISTON – In 1933, Bert Heutz started a company delivering cordwood from his tree lot to homes around Lewiston-Auburn. Seventy-six years later, his grandson, the vice president of Heutz Oil, has gotten that company and the family back in the wood business.

Tim Heutz is serving as president of the new Heutz Premium Pellet Systems, the first regional distributor of Maine Energy Systems’ wood pellets. Creating the new sister company meant building a pair of 150-ton pellet silos at Heutz’s Alfred Plourde Parkway headquarters and about a half-million-dollar investment, Heutz said.

The wood pellets, for pellet-driven stoves and furnaces, won’t compete with his oil business so much as offer another option, he said.

“I just think it’s a choice that I’m offering my customers and the whole central Maine area to take a different approach to energy,” Heutz said.

He likes that the pellets are environmentally green and renewable and that unlike petroleum products, most of the money stays in Maine.

“The economic ramifications for that are intense,” he said.

Scott Smith, director of business development at Maine Energy Systems, said the company, which was founded by Les Otten in Bethel, is working to set up a network of regional dealers around the state. It’s also inked an agreement with Pine State Energy in South Portland, but Heutz will be operational first. Companies in Fort Kent, Bangor and Ellsworth are in talks.

Home deliveries will work much like they do with oil, Heutz said.

A special truck will back up and deliver either to a hopper in the basement via 4-inch holes or to a special storage bin in the garage.

The average home on a pellet boiler will use 8 to 9 tons of pellets a year, Smith said. “We believe that pellet fuel (pricing) is going to be much more stable and much less volatile (than heating oil.)”

The special trucks can hold 10 tons of pellets. As for pricing, Heutz said 3 tons and under would sell today for $275 a ton; more than 3 tons, for $260 a ton.

The silos will be ready and deliveries will start in early March.

“A lot of alternative energies have been inconvenient and a real pain to do; this is not,” Heutz said.

On Thursday, he and MESys will host a ribbon-cutting at the silos at 4 p.m. and an open house at the Ramada Inn from 5 to 8 p.m.

Heutz plans to run a pellet boiler on a flatbed in the Ramada parking lot to introduce people to the technology.

“It’s amazing; it’s not what you’d expect,” he said. “When you see it, it’s almost tangible and believable; yeah, I could heat with that.”

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