On January 20 and 21, Maine Energy Systems will be conducting its monthly training session for installation and maintenance of its AutoPellet line of pellet boilers. As is customary, Herbert Ortner, the founder and owner of OkoFEN Pelletsheizung of Niederkappel, Austria, will conduct the training as he does in ten Western European countries.

However, the participant list in this session of training is indicative of a growing awareness in our region of biomass as a heating alternative for homes, businesses, and institutions. Typically held to 15 participants, this session has swelled to more than 20 participants because of growing interest from those outside the normal ranks of installing contractors.

The coming session of training includes participants who are members of five separate heating engineering firms, two of them do project engineering only, two of them are installing engineering firms, and the fifth is a very large scale engineering, installation and service firm.

In addition, four trainees represent a large oil distributor from western Massachusetts, one is from an established alternative energy company, and two are from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Notably the Director of Technical Education for Maine Energy Markets Association, formerly Maine Oil Dealers’ Association, will also be among this month’s trainees. The group is rounded out by the traditional installing contractors who will make the products available to their customers.

The remarkable and sudden growth in interest in learning about biomass heating for buildings of all sizes in our region is a strong indicator that people are concerned about growing our local economy through consumption of “homegrown” fuel, about substantially reducing the portion of our carbon footprint attributable to space heating and about preserving oil stocks for more critical applications.