April 06, 2020
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Boiler company OK with town ordinance

EAST MILLINOCKET – The Black Bear boiler will easily measure up to Millinocket’s proposed ordinance for outdoor wood-fired boilers, manufacturing company owners said Sunday.

Jeffrey W. Baker, co-owner of Clean Wood Heat LLC, gives the proposed ordinance generally good marks.

Millinocket town councilors “are coming along well. They used a lot of my suggestions,” Baker said Sunday. “They have boosted setback requirements for the boilers and adjusted emissions to reflect the proposed EPA standards. They are doing pretty well.”

Baker has spoken at Town Council meetings about the ordinance. He and company co-owner Dominic Federico have begun marketing their 90,000-BTU Black Bear boiler as they fine-tune their assembly lines at the Katahdin Regional Industrial Park off Route 157.

Clean Wood employs 16 workers, up from 12 since Aug. 1, making close to 10 boilers weekly. Its owners wanted 25 full-timers making 20 boilers a week by Oct. 1, but it took longer than expected to write the boiler’s operator’s manual and to integrate new workers, Baker said.

“Everything slows down for awhile when you get new workers as they learn their way,” Federico said Sunday. “It’s a learning curve for all of us.”

“We’re hiring a couple of people at a time instead of all at once. We’re also being very cautious about setting up the second assembly line,” Baker said. “We don’t want to do that twice. That would be very expensive.”

The good news is that the company has sold and installed about 50 boilers since August, its inventory is exhausted, back orders claim most of the boilers the company plans to make by January and one of its distributors, Zebco Plumbing and Heating Co. of Lubec, is finishing its retail shop, Federico said.

The company, which offers financing through the Katahdin Federal Credit Union in Millinocket and the East Millinocket Federal Credit Union, distributes boilers through two companies, its factory and its Web site, blackbearboilers.com.

“When we finish one boiler, it goes out the door the same day,” Federico said. “Probably we will need to hire at least another 10 workers before the end of the year, but we have to get our procedures organized.”

Federico and Baker hope to have 60 full-time workers producing 3,000 boilers annually at 2 Dirigo Drive by 2008. This is good news for the Katahdin region, which typically has unemployment double the state average and almost 50 percent of its population at or below the poverty line.

Retailing at $7,500 each, the Black Bear boiler is UL- and CSA-certified and recently passed weighted-average emissions tests that showed that the boiler burned 6.6 grams of particulate matter per 100,000-BTU per-hour output, Baker said.

The boiler is rated for indoor installation and exceeds the proposed 2008 Environmental Protection Agency standards and Millinocket’s ordinance, Baker said.

Millinocket was inspired to seek the ordinance because most outdoor boilers are smoky. Most boilers produce 25 to 111 grams of solid particulate waste an hour, state health officials have said.

By comparison, most wood-fired stoves today produce about 7.5 grams an hour. Federal EPA guidelines encourage 24 to 37 grams an hour from wood-fired boilers.

“We’re 10 times cleaner than our nearest competitor and we burn cleaner than about 60 percent of the EPA-certified wood stoves out there,” Baker said.


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