Bethel, Maine – Les Otten, on behalf of Maine Energy Systems and the Maine Pellet Fuels Association, traveled to Washington DC last week for discussions on the Energy Bill currently before Congress.
Otten met with Senator Olympia Snowe and her staff, and the staffs of Senators Lisa Murkowski, Jeanne Shaheen, and Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The topic was the inclusion of wood pellets and thermal biomass for residential and commercial heating in the energy bill that may come before the House and Senate this summer.
Otten stressed to the Senators that Maine and New England need viable alternatives to foreign oil. He urged them to push through the energy bill that was introduced by Senators Snowe and Bingaman a year ago that included rebate and tax credit terms similar to those currently awarded for installation of solar, wind and geo-thermal appliances.
For every 100,000 tons of wood pellets produced and used in Maine, there will be 241 direct and indirect jobs created in the state. The money that is not exported from the state for oil will also circulate, create more jobs and stimulate industry here in Maine. 100,000 tons per year of pellets will offset about 11,250,000 gallons of heating oil. Assuming a cost of $2.80/gallon, about $24.6 million could be prevented from leaving the state’s economy. If that money stays in the state, it will create an additional 1,450 jobs. Conversely, if heating oil were to return to $4.50/gallon it will cost Maine 32,777 jobs.
“Biomass used for space and water heating will be an important element in the reduction of fossil fuel consumption in the Northeastern U.S., the most oil dependent region in our country. It will be instrumental in the reduction of greenhouse gas production” stated Dutch Dresser, Director of Maine Energy Systems.
Dresser continues, “The transition from oil consumption to sustainably harvested wood fuel production will create thousands of jobs in the forest industries and manufacturing sectors of the northeast. The industries involved in the production of feedstock, fuel, and all equipment associated with the delivery and burning of biomass for thermal use would like to be considered at parity with geothermal, solar, and wind energy sources for all federally-funded industry and end-user rebates, incentives and grants.”
The inclusion of thermal biomass in the energy bill would help put Maine at the forefront of advancing renewables in the country. It would also further the goal of Maine Energy Systems and the MPFA of converting a significant proportion of the central home heating systems in Maine from oil to thermal biomass in the form of wood pellet fuel. The conversion to wood pellet fuel will cut heating costs in homes and businesses substantially.
Maine Energy Systems (MESys) pioneered the introduction of automatic wood pellet boiler systems and bulk pellet distribution to the U.S. beginning in June 2008. MESys was motivated by New England’s extraordinary dependence on #2 oil for home, business, and institutional heating. Since that time, MESys has trained nearly 300 regional heating contractors to install and service automatic wood pellet boiler systems.
Maine Eco Pellet Heating boilers, substantially fabricated in the U.S. and assembled in Maine under license from ÖkoFEN, are marketed by MESys as AutoPellet systems. MESys is the sole distributor of these products in the Northeastern United States.
ÖkoFEN, located in Niederkappel, Austria, is Europe’s pellet heating specialist having produced the first commercially offered European pellet boiler in 1997. Today ÖkoFEN produces the world’s most sophisticated and environmentally-friendly pellet boiler systems.