A new program is offering homeowners in Farmington and Wilton, Maine, the opportunity to save 40-50 percent on home heating costs by switching from oil heat to high efficiency wood pellet boilers. Municipalities and non-profits are also eligible to participate.

The Model Neighborhood Project’s goal is to help the Northern Forest region move away from dependence on imported oil toward a local energy source that will create jobs and strengthen the forest economy.

The project will help up to 25 homeowners, three community facilities and three affordable housing facilities convert from oil heating systems to wood pellet boilers over the next two years. The program will begin accepting applications June 27th with new boiler installations beginning in early fall.

Project partners are offering a financial subsidy of 30 percent (up to $6,000) toward the purchase and installation of a wood pellet boiler for qualified participants. Residents and community leaders are invited to an information session Thursday, June 27, at the Farmington Community Building at 5:30 pm.

The Maine Model Neighborhood Program builds on a similar project implemented in Berlin, NH by the Northern Forest Center (Center). The Center and Western Maine Community Action (WMCA) are partnering to bring the program to western Maine. A recent grant from the Efficiency Maine Trust from its Renewable Resources Fund helped jump start this fuel conversion program as a public demonstration project in Franklin County.

The “model” neighborhood concept will create a geographic concentration of pellet boiler users and help develop the pellet delivery systems, installation and maintenance support that will make it easier for others to switch to pellet heating and allow the community to experience the convenience and savings of the high efficiency pellet boilers.

“I applaud the Center and WMCA for their initiative to bring affordable heat to rural Maine,” said Patrick C. Woodcock, director of the Governor’s Energy Office. “Thousands of households are desperate for affordable heating options and using modern wood heat can be a local option for the State of Maine.”

Switching to pellets made from wood that is grown and processed in the Northern Forest keeps 100 percent of the money spent on this alternative fuel in the local and regional economy, while nearly 80 cents of every dollar spent on imported heating oil leaves the local economy.