OXFORD — The Oxford Hills School District has awarded the wood chip bid to General Biofuel of Toronto, Canada.

The company, which has locations in Porter, Maine, and North Conway, N.H., was the low bidder of four companies that put in bids to fuel the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School biomass boiler. The boiler is currently on a ship to the United States and is expected to be fired up in early March, officials said.

General Biofuel was recommended by the Operations Committee as the low bidder for type-two chips at a price of $54 per ton for the first year, $54.50 for the second year, $55 for the third year, $55.50 for the fourth year and $56 for the fifth year, an average of $55 per ton.

The high bidder was New England Energy Solutions at $62 per ton. Two other companies bid only on type-one chips at $62.75 and $60 per ton.

The biomass furnace was shipped out from the manufacturing plant in Austria on Jan. 17 and officials say it will take four to six weeks to arrive. The furnace is expected to be shipped to Cote Crane in Auburn who has been contracted to install it at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

The proposed $2 million-plus conversion project from oil to wood chips at the high school was planned to address escalating fuel costs and to make the district more energy independent. The furnace will supplement about 90 percent of 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, officials said.

According to information from Business Manager Cathy Fanjoy, bids were solicited from all known local suppliers of wood chips that can be used in the school’s biomass furnace. The school solicited four different types of wood chips for a five-year period and four companies responded.

The award was based on a unanimous recommendation from the Operations Committee after consultation with the biomass furnace engineers at Siemens and Viesmann officials, the manufacturer of the biomass furnace. Officials felt the bid award would be least expensive without compromising the efficiency of the boiler.

In a memo to Superintendent Rick Colpitts, Fanjoy said the five-year bid award would provide stability in budgeting for heating fuel for the high school.

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