Maine bill encourages the purchase of locally produced pellets

By Erin Voegele | March 08, 2016

Legislation recently introduced in Maine aims to support local pellet producers by encouraging public postsecondary educational institutions to give preference to Maine producers when entering into heating fuel contracts.

The bill, LD 1588, was introduced in February by state Rep. Robert Saucier. It specifically targets the University of Maine System, the Maine Maritime Academy and the Maine Community College System.

“We need to support the four pellet fuel producers in the state. All of them are facing a near-perfect storm of low oil prices, high temperatures and a strong U.S. dollar against foreign currencies,” said Saucier in a statement. “All four are experiencing high inventories on hand and weak demand for their products. Many of these mills are working very limited hours or have shut down entirely, laying off workers.”

According to information released by Saucier’s office, he introduced the legislation in response to news that a company that contracts with the University of Maine at Fort Kent is purchasing pellets from Canada. The university’s two-year fuel contract for a biomass plant shared with the local school district requires two sources of wood pellets. According to information released by Saucier, the company that provides fuel to the university indicated that because Northeast pellets is the only company in Aroostook County, they purchase Canadian pellets as well.

“In my years with the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce, which serves Caribou, Presque Isle and 18 other communities in the area, we have worked with the forestry industry to help develop good jobs that will make the best use of our major renewable resource,” said Theresa Fowler, executive director of the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce, in testimony submitted in support of the legislation. “In these years we have maintained rail service and seen the expansion of multiple processors. As taxpayers in the state of Maine, it is important that our tax dollars be used wisely and support state of Maine businesses that subsequently provide tax revenue, jobs and new dollars to the economy by adding value to our limited resources.”

Additional information on the legislation is available on the Maine legislature website.