It was an exciting day here in Fort Kent! Folks from all over came together to celebrate the inaugural firing and ribbon cutting of a 5.5 million dollar biomass project.
“To see this today, is amazing,” said John Martin, director for sustainability development at UMFK.
A significant milestone was marked Friday in the Pleasant Street Academy Biomass Project– the firing of the twin BTU boilers — located inside the Fort Kent armory. The boilers are now heating 4 buildings on UMFK’s campus. The project, when completed, is expected to save UMFK and SAD 27 millions in energy costs in the next decade.
Project manager Tom Perkins said, “to be able to put a substantial cost savings to operational costs year to year for a facility like this is really great.”
Tim Doak, Superintendent of Schools at SAD 27 says, “we can’t predict what mother nature is going to bring us some years are really cold some are not but its always a guessing game in our budget and we try to put enough money in there to suffice now this is really gonna help us here try to keep some of that cost down.”
In addition to lowering fuel costs, the district heating plant will enhance environmental sustainability, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and complement collaborative efforts between SAD 27 and UMFK..it was largely made possible by grant funding from the USDA.
Wilson Hess, UMFK President said, “our sources in Washington DC said what elevated this project above all of the others nationwide — only 16 projects were funded — and this was picked because of the collaboration.”
When the project is done – more than a dozen buildings will be heated – ten on UMFK’s campus, and the Fort Kent Community High School, Valley Rivers Middle School and the Fort Kent Elementary School – that will be celebrated with another ribbon cutting in August of this year.