BAR HARBOR — While businesses across Maine are scrambling to deal with the electric price increases that are slated to hit customers this winter, Jackson Lab already has taken steps to help ease its exposure through wise energy-efficient investments over the last few years.
“With help from Efficiency Maine and its RGGI funds, we were able to build a combined heat and power plant, fueled by Maine-grown and made wood pellets,” said Norm Burdzel, Facilities Engineer, Jackson Laboratory. “It has slashed Jackson Lab’s heating oil use while generating clean electricity we can use, too.”
As Hancock County’s largest employer – with more than 1,200 people – and a need for finely tuned temperature and humidity levels to raise mice, the company’s heating, humidifying, and cooling bills would go through the roof this winter, if its energy investments had not been made.
The lab’s new 600-kilowatt turbine works in conjunction with its wood pellet-fueled boiler, which generates steam for various heating needs. Excess steam drives the turbine, generating electricity on site and cutting costs further. By generating some of its own power in a sustainable, cost-effective fashion, the Lab also helps insulate itself against some of the volatility in electricity markets, and its energy-efficient lighting and other improvements have further cut overall power needs.
The boiler-turbine project cost $730,000, $365,000 of which came from the RGGI-funded Efficiency Maine Large Customer Program. Jackson Laboratory projects it will save $140,000 per year and repay its investment within 2.6 years, reducing its need for power purchased from the grid by 8 percent.
Brewer-based Kinney Electric completed all of the electrical work for both the pellet boiler and the turbine at Jackson Lab. Kinney Electric is no stranger to Efficiency Maine-funded projects, most commonly for lighting improvements in commercial spaces, like warehouses.
“This kind of work is important to us,” said Dan Kinney. “It might seem like a small project for a small company, but here in Maine, almost everyone is a small company.” Kinney employs seven people. Kinney says working on this and other Efficiency Maine projects has been great. “The whole process was very smooth; it went very well for us.”
Other contractors that worked on the Jackson Lab project include Pizzagalli Construction Company of Portland, R.F. Jordan of Surry, Johnson & Jordan of Scarborough, Babcock & Wilcox of Yarmouth, and Maine Wood Pellets of Athens, among others.
Jackson Lab also has received financial support through Efficiency Maine’s Business Program, partially funded by RGGI, to install energy-efficient lighting, HVAC, and water systems. These improvements save Jackson Lab tens of thousands of dollars every year.