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This time, "The County" is leading the way. In the effort to encourage the adoption of locally-produced biomass and wood pellet heat, the Aroostook Partnership for Progress (APP) has established a Biomass Working Group, spearheaded by Robert Dorsey, President.
On May 19, 2012, the group hosted the first ever Aroostook Partnership for Progress Biomass Fair, held on the campus of the University of Maine Presque Isle. Despite temperatures around 80 degrees, roughly 200 people interested in saving money on heating attended the fair.
The event featured experts and vendors from local pellet manufacturers, stove/boiler suppliers, engineering firms and banks to answer questions and help guide people through the options and process of establishing a system for a business or home. In addition to the vendors, there was a series of educational presentations on biomass.
Bob Dorsey said the purpose of the fair was to educate people about energy alternatives, which can help them save money, promote an Aroostook resource (wood) and keep money in the local economy. He added that when people use a biomass heating solution, essentially 100 percent of the money spent stays in the County or Maine.
In addition to the fair, the Biomass Working Group has been working with area lenders to create products that make it affordable for folks to install these heating systems. One such program is offered by The County Federal Credit Union, based in Caribou.
Branded "Warm House Loans", these evolved from loans that had been previously offered to help people pay for their heating oil over the course of a year, according to Dan Bagley of The County FCU.
Now, thanks to the credit union's partnership with the Biomass Working Group of APP, homeowners and businesses can qualify for a range of special rates and terms designed to enable them to install biomass and wood pellet stoves and heaters. The fuels cost roughly half of what oil does, so the savings on fuel helps people to make the loan payments.
We expect to see this model followed throughout Maine as more and more of Maine's lenders meet the growing demand for capital investment in home-grown heat sources.
To learn more about the APP, visit their website.