Maine Energy Systems is Les Otten’s latest brainchild, and, as with so many of his ventures, the office could easily be considered an “energy box.”
In the three years this young company has been in existence, it has been continuously involved in pioneering work in the introduction of fully automatic, pellet-fired central heating systems to the United States. It has imported the world’s very best available pellet boilers, started a young, robust regional bulk pellet distribution network, facilitated the production of the first fully pnuematic bulk pellet delivery truck in the U.S., and worked with countless financial and regulatory agencies to help decision-makers understand the state-of-the-art in pellet central heating.
Today the energy box is producing an energy box.
Two heating system practices are common in Europe that haven’t yet become common in the United States–district heating and the use of “energy boxes.” District heating is the provision of heat to a number of buildings from a single boiler system; it is quite common in Western Europe. Districts large and small efficiently serve communities from clusters of residences to whole villages and segments of cities.
Energy boxes are small structures outside the building to be heated that contain the boiler system(s) and the stored fuel. These inconspicuous small enclosures preserve valuable space in the heated building for other uses while housing the whole boiler system just outside.
Maine Energy Systems is building the energy box of material researched and acquired from a Canadian manufacturer by Ben “BJ” Otten (standing in the doorway). That energy box will house two OkoFEN 200,000 BTU pellet boilers and lots of pellet fuel. In fact, there will be enough fuel in the box so that there will only need to be three, or four, deliveries made per year to fire the two-boiler system.
Energy boxes are fabricated at the Bethel facility and equipped with boilers, electrical systems, feed augers, chimneys or power vents, and all necessary piping. They are transported to the installation site by truck, set in place on a prepared concrete slab, attached to power and the heating system of the building and fired up.
As our culture understands the value of this style of heating, these small structures will become common means of heating individual buildings and collections of buildings.
Dutch Dresser is a Director of Maine Energy Systems in Bethel, Maine.