Pellet project in Maine awarded $200,000 REAP grant

By Erin Voegele | October 02, 2018

A proposed wood pellet plant in Maine was recently awarded a $200,000 grant through the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program. The REAP award was announced by Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.

According to information released by Pingree’s office, T&D Wood Energy LLC was awarded $200,000 in REAP funding to support the development of a $5.7 million wood pellet plant in Sanford, Maine.

The mid-sized pellet plant will be built adjacent to an operating white pine sawmill. The pellet mill will utilize all the wood residues coming from that sawmill. It will also purchase additional wood waste residues from other sawmills in the region.

A USDA fact sheet on the project states the project will generate more than 164 million kWh annually, which is enough electricity to power 15,142 homes.

USDA Rural Development’s REAP program offers two types of funding assistance. Under the first, Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance, the USDA provides grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Eligible renewable energy systems are biomass, including anaerobic digesters, wind, solar, small-hydo-electric, ocean, geothermal or hydrogen derived from renewable resources.

The second is the Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grant, which is available to state, Tribal or local governments; institutions of higher education; rural electric cooperatives; public power entities; and councils. Recipients of the grants establish programs to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses with evaluating the energy efficiency and the potential to incorporate renewable energy technologies into their operations.

Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, which has oversight of USDA Rural Development funding. During recent debate on the House Farm Bill, Pingree spoke in opposition to cuts in funding for REAP and other Rural Development programs that have benefited Maine.