February 15, 2011
AUGUSTA, Maine – In preparation for calling for a third round of applications, the Maine Forest Service, under the Maine Department of Conservation, is asking for comments and questions about the application process for the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Wood to Energy Grants Program.
The third call for applications for public wood-to-energy projects is expected to be announced later this month, according to Maine Forest Service (MFS) officials. A total amount of $2.7 million will be available as grant funding for the installation of wood-energy boilers to all Maine public entities or parties with public buildings, including schools, hospitals, state, county, local and tribal governments in this round.
“We want to make the application process as clear as possible and to provide guidance to potential applicants,” Thomas C. Wood, MFS senior planner, said. “To make that possible, we would like to hear all comments and questions from interested parties in order to refine the application process.”
“The Wood to Energy Program can provide multiple benefits for Maine people and communities,” Donald J. Mansius, MFS acting state forester, said. “Local land owners, woods workers, and truckers all benefit from having local customers for their product, and schools benefit from an abundant, renewable energy supply at a reduced cost.”
“We are soliciting comments from the public and entities likely to apply for the grants program,” he continued. “The process benefits greatly from the comments and perspectives from the communities where wood energy can be of great benefit.”
The wood-to-energy grant concept was developed and proposed by the Maine Forest Service and approved for funding by the USDA Forest Service. The effort has been designed as a competitive grant process open in all Maine communities for state, county, local and tribal governmental buildings, as well as for school and hospital structures.
A total of $11.4 million was made available to the state for the grants, with funding coming from the USDA Forest Service – Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry, targeting primarily rural, economically depressed counties.
The goals for the grant program are to create and retain jobs in Maine, to achieve energy savings through wood-to-energy installations, reduce dependence on non-renewable energy resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support sustainable forestry.
So far, 11 grants have been awarded to schools, universities and medical centers around Maine for the installation of wood-energy boilers. The grants are expected to create and retain nearly 200 jobs throughout the state.
The third call for applications is expected to open on or about Feb. 23, Wood said. The Maine Forest Service wants to make sure the grant application process is improved to include modifications resulting from the comments and questions, he said.
Those who have comments or questions can send them directly to the MFS by using the “send comments” function on the MFS grant website or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments and questions also will be posted regularly on the MFS grant website, Wood said. The draft Round 3 application is available through a link on the website, he said.
For more information about the ARRA grant, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/arra/
For more information about the Round 3 application, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/arra/pages/rd_3_pre_application_info.html