FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday will discuss connecting the Community Center to a central heating plant planned for the University of Maine at Farmington.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, at the Municipal Building.

The proposed 5,000-square-foot biomass plant is planned for a parking area at Quebec and Perkins streets, Jeffrey McKay, director of facilities management at UMF, said. The lot is behind the Community Center, within the same block.

The plans include a 36-foot-high building with a required 54-foot smokestack stretching 18 feet above the building.

The intention is to heat the entire campus through the centralized plant by next heating season, McKay said.

The University of Maine Board of Trustees approved a natural gas-fired central heating plant for the campus in July 2014. The plan included the potential for a future switch to biomass. Summit Natural Gas could not commit to bringing natural gas to Farmington this year.


McKay provided the town with cost estimates, the potential payback time for connection and equipment needed for the Community Center and for the Farmington Public Library to be connected to the plant.

The cost to connect to the Community Center is estimated at $90,000 with an expected 7.6-year payback. The cost to connect the library is estimated at $75,000 with an estimated payback of just over 12 years.

The library is on the loop planned for Merrill Hall, the administration building on campus. The connection would require less excavation.

The opportunity to connect to the plant at some point in the future would remain an option. But, if the town is interested, it might be more feasible to make plans for it now, he said.

The university decided to reach out to the community with the offer to enlarge the scope of its project and continue the good relationship between the two, he said. It could also help reduce the carbon footprint created by fossil fuels.

Apart from potential cost savings for the university, the project is expected to support the local economy, he said.

The money for heating the campus — $900,000 is spent for oil — is expected to stay in the area because the biomass plant will run on locally supplied wood chips, McKay said.

McKay and designers are expected to attend a board meeting next month to explain plans and a proposed design.

Comments are no longer available on this story