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UMaine Farmington will spend $12M on facility upgrades to scale back fossil fuel use

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Robbie Feinberg
/
Maine Public
Wood chips on a conveyor at the biomass plant at the University of Maine in Farmington.

The University of Maine at Farmington is planning to spend nearly $12 million on facility upgrades that officials say will slash fossil fuel use on campus.

The new project will include upgrades to lighting, heating, plumbing, and add insulation to about 30 buildings.

Keenan Farwell, the school's director of facilities management, said UMF will also construct a second wood chip-powered biomass boiler, in addition to one built six years ago, which will allow the school to drastically reduce its annual heating oil use.

"When we put the central heat plant in, in 2016, at that time we were using 400,000 gallons. We went down to [60,000]. And this should take us down to about 3,000," Farwell said.

The college said the project will save about $12 million over the next two decades, and UMF will raise another $4 million by selling "thermal renewable energy credits" generated by the new biomass plant.

Work on the project is expected to be finished in about eighteen months.