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Methane from landfill to power mill

September 30, 2009
BERLIN — If the communities that make up the district don't object, the Androscoggin Valley Regional Refuse Disposal District (AVRRDD) will partner with Fraser to put in a $2.5 million pipeline between Mount Carbarry and the Cascade mill so the district can sell methane to the mill. Fraser will be required to make the upgrades on their end to allow the boiler to run off methane.

The AVRRDD held a public information meeting on Thursday about its proposal to take a forgivable loan through the Business Finance Authority to allow them to sell landfill gas to Fraser Paper's Cascade plant. The loan would be for $502,300, the 20 percent match required for an Economic Development Authority grant.

The public information meeting was part of the 60 day comment period required before the district applies for the loan.

"At the end of the 60 days, if there aren't any objections, the board will move forward," said Sharon Gauthier, AVRRDD Executive Director.

There were several questions, but no one spoke out in opposition to the plan.

The district will pay the loan off with the revenue generated by the sale of the landfill gas, which it will sell to Fraser for half the price of the fuel oil it currently uses to run the boiler.

The forgivable loan means if at some point Fraser can't pay AVRRDD for some reason, the loan is reduced to what they have paid so far.

"There will be a net savings for Fraser and a net revenue for the district," Mrs. Gauthier said.

The state and Fraser Paper approached AVRRDD in January, trying to find ways to cut energy costs at the mill. The three entities looked for funding opportunities, and they decided to try to try for the federal Economic Development Administration grant.

AVRRDD would get $500,000 a year from Fraser for the methane, so once the first year is over the district would have collected the full loan amount from Fraser. They would therefore be liable to pay back the full amount of the forgivable loan, but it gives the district a cushion should there be a problem.

The district would pay about $180,000 each year for the three year period it was repaying the loan, while earning $500,000 a year from its methane gas. The district currently burns the gas at Mount Carberry to get rid of it.

Mrs. Gauthier said the district wants to have the project completed as soon as possible.

"It has been our hope that we can get it done for the winter," she said.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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