Fire department installs new heat source

Kathy McCarty, Special to The County
9 years ago

MAPLETON, Maine — The Mapleton, Castle Hill, Chapman Fire Department has a new heating system just in time for winter, with the recent installation of an OkoFEN/Maine Energy Systems’ boiler and FleXILO pellet storage bin with five-ton capacity.
“The boiler and bin were installed earlier this year but we’ll maintain the oil boiler to help supplement and as a backup for the heating system,” said Town Manager Jon Frederick, during an open house Sept. 12 at the firehouse, which was attended by local officials and Efficiency Maine’s Anne Stephenson.
Frederick said town officials “knew we needed to replace the boiler, so we worked with Jim McPartland, of McPartland and Sons of Houlton, to install the new system.”
He said the idea to switch came after he attended an energy fair.


“I went to an alternative energy fair APP held at NMCC in early 2014. I talked with Matt Bell, owner of Northeast Pellets in Ashland, who hooked me up with Maine Energy Systems. Jim partners with MES and came and took a look at our system and helped us apply for a grant,” said the town manager.
“We install heat pumps, water heaters, bins, boilers — whatever the customer wants,” said McPartland.
Frederick said he looked at this type of upgrade at the request of Rich Wark, chief of the fire department.
“We have a radiant heat system in the floor — through the whole building, which was built in 2001. A few years ago we put in a propane-fired water heater. In the past, the water was heated as part of the boiler system and we typically would shut the boiler off in the summer. Now we have hot water year-round,” said Wark.
Frederick said the total cost of the project was about $26,000.
“The grant totaled $26,000; we received $20,800. We had to come up with $5,200, that was our portion of the 80-20 matching for the grant. In 2014 the fire department budget came to $146,000, with $8,500 allocated to heating fuel — over 5 percent of the budget. The approximate annual oil consumption is 2,500 gallons,” said Frederick. The grant was provided through the Efficiency Maine Trust, Research and Development and Demonstration Projects, under the Renewable Resources Fund.
He said it won’t take long to recover the town’s share of the cost of installing the new heating system.
“It’s a simple payback. Based on an existing heating expense of $8,500 per year, annual savings of $4,300 a year will result in a simple payback period of five and a half years, which we expect to realize. Once the system is paid for from the savings, the new heating budget will be $4,200 a year, resulting in $103,200 savings over the life of the equipment, which is expected to last 30 years — not taking inflation and fuel costs into account,” said Frederick.
Frederick said the annual heating load for the fire station remains the same with the pellet boiler upgrade.
“The pellet boiler operates about 6 percent more efficient, or 16.3 MMBTU a year in increased efficiency. One MMBTU is equal to a million BTU,” he said.
He said the cost to address the annual heating demand using today’s energy prices, wood pellet fuel is less than half the cost of oil to produce the same amount of heat.
Bell, who attended the open house at the fire station to unveil the new heating system, said interest in pellet heating systems is on the rise.
“I’ve seen an increase volume in sales. I’ve been trying to keep track through Efficiency Maine, for supply needs. I think we’re around 300 units like this in use (in the state),” said Bell.
Bell calculated the conversion for Frederick between fuel and pellet use.
“It equates to about 100-125 gallons of fuel to one ton of pellets, when converted,” said Bell.
McPartland said he’s worked on several such installations throughout the state.
“I’ve done town offices, fire departments, nursing homes, Baxter State Park’s maintenance office. We also do residential homes, churches. This can be outfitted to suit most applications,” said McPartland. For more information, call 532-2843.
Frederick said in addition to the boiler installation, heat pumps are also going to be installed in the town office.
“We’re typically in that building for 10-hour days, so there’s a higher need. There’s a business rebate program through Efficiency Maine which will save us $1,000 per pump. We’re hoping to have those installed in time for the winter heating season,” said Frederick.
Attending the open house were: Frederick, Wark, Bell, McPartland, Stephenson, Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Theresa Fowler, CACC Administrative Assistant Lynne Frederick, Mapleton Selectmen Scott Smith and Grant Clark, and Castle Hill Selectman Rocky McHatten.