Member Spotlight

Maine Energy Systems comes to Oxford with an innovative biomass heating solution

Opens bulk pellet distribution center

By Barbara Van Reed

Oil and gas come to mind as traditional fossil fuel solutions for home central heating systems. Wind and solar are usually seen of as the future for renewable, sustainable energy sources.

A third, perhaps less well known, solution is biomass heating, in the form of wood pellets. But Maine Energy System’s opening of a distribution facility in North Oxford last month could change that thinking for Massachusetts residents and businesses.

Maine Energy Systems provides fully automated wood pellet central heating systems for homes, businesses, institutions and municipal buildings. In some ways the pellet system behaves like an oil furnace: pellets are delivered by a truck, and pumped into a pellet storage bag, which automatically feeds the boiler. The user never touches the pellets.

The ribbon cutting and opening ceremony took place at the company’s new facility at Boulder Park Way. Les Otten, cofounder and director, described how he and co-founder Harry “Dutch” Dresser conceived the concept eight years ago with a goal to help preserve the health of the planet for their children and grandchildren.

“This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue,” Mr. Otten said. “The heart of this is capitalism.” He likened the innovation of the automated pellet heating system to that of an old-fashioned icebox to today’s high tech refrigerators. “It puts people to work; it’s what this country is based on.”

The featured speaker at the ceremony was Judith Judson, Massachusetts Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources. The heating appliance showroom, warehouse, and bulk pellet distribution facility was completed with the support of an $806,598 energy infrastructure grant from the DOER.

Ms. Judson said the new facility has the potential to greatly increase biomass as a renewable energy source for Massachusetts. “Massachusetts has long been a leader in renewable energy,” she said, being 4th in the nation in terms of solar usage. Maine Energy Systems won one of the first grants awarded by the DOER.

Co-founder “Dutch” Dresser echoed Ms. Judson’s comments. “Massachusetts has a clear view of what it is trying to accomplish.”

Local officials on hand for the ribbon cutting were Senator Ryan Fattman, who presented a citation from the State Senate, Paul Frost, who presented a citation from the House of Representative on behalf of himself and Representative Joe McKenna, and Dennis Luukko, representing the Webster Dudley Oxford Chamber of Commerce.

Environmental responsibility is what drives Mr. Otten and Mr. Dresser. They say that switching to a wood pellet boiler from an oil system will reduce the user’s carbon footprint 86 percent.  Cost wise, unlike oil, wood pellets prices have been very stable and at today’s prices, a pellet system costs less to operate than an oil system. Massachusetts makes available rebates of up to $16,500 towards the installation of pellet boiler and furnace equipment.     

The boiler and furnaces are manufactured by Maine Energy Systems at its Bethel, Maine, headquarters facility, under license from the Austrian company OkoFEN.