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Maine Forest Service calls for third round of wood-to-energy project applications
AUGUSTA — The Maine Forest Service (MFS), under the Maine Department of Conservation, is requesting applications for shovel-ready, wood-to-energy conversion projects for funding through federal recovery-act monies.
Under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 Wood to Energy Grants Program, $2.7 million will be available this round as grant funding for the installation of wood-energy boilers to all Maine public entities or parties with public buildings, including schools, hospitals, state, county, cities and towns and tribal governments.
So far, 11 grants have been awarded to schools, universities and medical centers around Maine for the installation of wood-energy boilers. The ARRA funding is expected to create and retain about 200 jobs throughout the state.
“Maine’s forest is our most valuable resource, and it’s renewable,” Gov. Paul LePage said. “This is an opportunity for communities to use our homegrown resources, put more people to work and keep Mainers warm at the same time. Everybody wins.”
“This program provides opportunities for small, wood-to-energy projects even as Maine looks at large-scale, high-tech conversions,” Commissioner Bill Beardsley of the Maine Department of Conservation said. “Testing multiple techniques with successful demonstrations in these smaller projects offers opportunities for replication in every town in Maine.”
“We are pleased to be able to offer this federal grant money to applicants around the state,” Donald Mansius, MFS acting state forester, said. “This program offers an important opportunity for Maine to create and retain jobs and to demonstrate its leadership in renewable energy. Converting to wood heat should allow successful applicants to realize significant cost savings, keep the fuel dollars they do spend circulating in the Maine economy and help reduce Maine’s dependency on foreign fossil fuels.”
First announced in August 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is providing the state of Maine with economic stimulus funds for job creation and the increased use of renewable energy. The Maine Department of Conservation (MDOC) has been designated by the USDA Forest Service to receive that portion of funding for which Maine is eligible. These are one-time funds that must be spent or committed within two years.
Maine’s forest industry has a more than $10-billion impact on the state’s economy, with the largest payroll in the state. More than 20,000 people are employed in the industry. The ARRA funding is expected not only to create new jobs, but also to promote wood-to-energy activities to help achieve a national goal of healthy, sustainable forests, state officials said.
The promotion of sustainable management of Maine forest land and the use of certified products also is an important aspect of funding grant projects, according to Maine Forest Service officials.
The Wood-to-Energy conversion project applications must be submitted by March 24, and the awards will be announced as soon as possible, according to state officials. The proposals must come from public institutions, rather than vendors, and must meet two basic criteria: the wood-to-energy projects must be shovel ready; and they must create or retain jobs.
Potential applicants are encouraged to register at the ARRA website to receive program updates. The request for applications (RFA) and registration form for Round 3 are available on-line at: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/arra.
For more information about the Round 3 application, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/arra/pages/rd_3_pre_application_info.html
For more information about the ARRA Public Building Wood-to-Energy Program, contact Thomas C. Wood, MFS senior planner, at 287-3920 or by e-mail at email@example.com.