Maine DEP accepts EU emission standards for pellet boilers

By Lisa Gibson | August 29, 2011

Maine Energy Systems, in Bethel, Maine, is preparing for a spike in pellet boiler sales, as the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is the first state in the nation to accept European Union emissions testing as comparable to U.S. federal standards. Along with that decision comes certification of five ÖkoFEN pellet boiler models to be sold to home and business owners in Maine.

More than 35,000 of the boilers, all assembled at Maine Energy Systems, are in use in Europe. They use a sophisticated air control and a highly-efficient heat transfer area to ensure a clean burn, and have an 85 percent efficiency rate. Maine Energy Systems estimates that the owner of an average-sized home heated through pellet burning in lieu of fossil fuels will have a carbon footprint reduction of about 16 tons per year.

Because the ÖkoFEN boilers can be installed in “energy boxes,” which are separate from occupied buildings, Maine law requires that they be treated as outdoor wood boilers in those installations and adhere to related environmental regulations, according to the Maine DEP. Maine’s rules on outdoor wood boilers has a provision that allows the department to accept boiler certification programs other than the one used by the U.S. EPA if deemed scientifically valid. After analyzing the method used to certify boilers in Europe, Maine developed a way to compare the European results to those obtained from the EPA test method, according to the Maine DEP.

Now that Maine pioneered the new certification, other states are expected to follow, according to the Maine DEP. Vermont recently issued an interim certification to Maine Energy Systems for one of the ÖkoFEN boilers, specifically saying it relied on Maine DEP’s analysis in equating the EPA and EU standards.

“It’s important that Mainers know there are convenient, clean and efficient alternatives to provide heat for homes and businesses and the number of alternatives is growing,” said Louis Fontaine, the Maine DEP Bureau of Air Quality scientist who led the process. “We at the Maine DEP are proud to be a part of a local small business expanding their workforce and at the same time, Mainers’ options for home heating.”