FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen unanimously decided Tuesday to seek cost estimates for installing a pellet boiler for the Community Center and the town garage.

In an effort to compare apples to apples, Selectman Josh Bell requested a presentation on pellet boiler systems at the board’s previous meeting. At that time, the board agreed to consider connecting the Community Center to the University of Maine at Farmington’s proposed central heating plant.

William Crandall of Western Maine Community Action, along with Maura Adams and Gabe Perkins of the Northern Forest Center, came to the board meeting to discuss the Model Neighborhood Project’s wood heat initiative.  

This project has provided incentives to homeowners in Farmington and Wilton and nonresidential building owners anywhere in Franklin and Oxford counties to install efficient, wood pellet boilers, Adams said. 

There still is funding in the project for five homes and six nonresidential buildings, she said.

For the nonresidential buildings, the incentive is 25 percent of the installed boiler cost up to $12,000, she said.

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In about a year and a half, 20 homes and four buildings, including Old South Church in Farmington, have participated in the Model Neighborhood Project.

Advocating the use of local resources, Crandall stressed the potential to build a strong, sustainable economy by using pellets produced in Strong.

The university’s project also proposes using local wood chips, he said.

While 80 cents of every dollar spent on oil goes out of state, every dollar spent on pellets stays here and will multiply about five times as people earn and spend money, he said.  

Unable to provide cost estimates for installation, Crandall and Maura suggested the board seek free estimates from their contractors. 

Although the board wants to make the comparison between the pellet boiler and UMF’s biomass plant, timing is critical if a decision comes before voters at the March town meeting, Selectman Stephan Bunker reminded the board.

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The board previously agreed to initial design work for connecting the Community Center to the UMF plant. The connection would cost $90,000. 

Town Manager Richard Davis was ill and could not attend the meeting so the board tabled taking any action to enter into an agreement with Trane Corp. for the engineering and project development until its next meeting. Trane is the engineer for UMF.

The board did agree to ask Davis to contact Perkins of the Northern Forest Center to set up a cost estimate for the pellet boiler. At the same time, it agreed to also get an estimate for the town garage.

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