Governor Announces $11.4 million in Federal Recovery Funds for Wood Energy Projects

AUGUSTA, ME – August 20, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Gov. John E. Baldacci today announced that the Maine Forest Service, under the Maine Department of Conservation, will receive more than $11.4 million in federal recovery funds to convert at least 15 public buildings to wood or dual-fuel heating.

The funding, which totals $11,424,000 from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, will be made available through a competitive grant process to all Maine communities, with a preference to rural, economically depressed counties, the governor said Thursday.

The funding, which is coming from the USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry division, is expected to create about 200 jobs and fund 15 conversion projects in such buildings as schools, hospitals, and state, county, local and tribal government structures.

“In February, I visited Mount Abram High School, which uses a wood pellet furnace, and I saw the benefits of wood heat in public buildings,” Governor Baldacci said. “Maine is a recognized leader in renewable energy, and this significant grant will help us expand that sector of our economy.”

“Not only will it create new, green-technology jobs in Maine, but it also will showcase our forest-products and wood-energy industries, improve our forests, diversify existing forest-product markets and help make Maine less dependent on foreign oil,” the governor said.

“Many of Maine’s energy issues can be solved within the 17 million acres of Maine forest, which are growing better than at any time in over a half century,” Commissioner Patrick McGowan of the Maine Department of Conservation said. “Maine is the most heavily forested state in America, and when the Governor and the President speak of green jobs and a green economy, this grant will help continue our Maine’s green-job expansion. It is a great start, and I am delighted.”

Through the fuel conversion process, the Recovery Act funding will create and support jobs among licensed solid wood-fuel professionals, contractors and engineering firms. The use of the recovery funds also is expected to benefit loggers and other forest-product professionals.

Maine’s forest industry has a significant impact on the state’s economy. The Recovery Act funding is expected to promote wood-to-energy (biomass) activities to also help achieve a national goal of healthy, sustainable forests.

The promotion of sustainable management of Maine forest land and the use of certified products will be key to the funded projects, according to Maine Forest Service officials.

MFS officials expect to initiate requests for the conversion project proposals no later than November.

For more information, contact Mackenzi Keliher, Maine Department of Conservation, at (207) 287-4909.

Contact:
Mackenzi Keliher,(207) 287-4909
Jeanne Curran, (207) 287-3156

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