Bethel Town Office heating with wood
A new wood boiler expected to save the Town of Bethel almost $5,000 a year in heating costs is now in place in the Town Office.
Last week Errol Woodbury Plumbing, Heating and Maintenance of Brunswick completed installation of a new Maine Energy Systems wood pellet boiler in the basement of the Cole Block.
The system, which cost $28,784, is projected by MES to save the town $4,867 a year in heating costs over the old oil system.
Matt Hiebert of MES said the annual cost of pellets is estimated at $4,632 ($240/ton), while heating oil would be approximately $9,500 (at $3.80 a gallon).
A fabric bin near the boiler can hold up to 5 tons of pellets. MES, which also delivers the pellets, buys them from mills in Maine, including in Strong and Athens.
Hiebert said some oil dealers have also started offering pellets, and now refer to themselves with the broader term, “fuel dealer.”
The town office is the first in the Bethel area to install a pellet boiler, and is one of 15 municipal sites now using wood boiler systems. Other locations include the Oxford County Courthouse, SAD 74 in Anson (eight boilers), the Gardiner City Hall, and other municipal offices.
SAD 74 spreads the ash left from the burned pellets on its athletic fields, Hiebert said.
MES makes three sizes of boilers, which can also be used in commercial and residential settings. The Bethel unit is the largest size, generating 200,000 BTUs. Residential ones can generate up to 100,000 BTUs.
Hiebert said MES is still educating people to make them aware that the system is a fully-automated boiler. “It’s not a wood pellet stove,’ he said.
The pellet systems have recently been recognized by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as a “central heating system,” said Hiebert. More people, he said, “are starting to see it as common and ordinary,” rather than experimental.
Six months ago, MES began manufacturing the boilers onsite.
The company buys parts from a variety of locations ranging from Pennsylvania to Romania.