Irving Forest Products awarded US$471,000 Efficiency Maine grant to install kiln moisture control system at Dixfield sawmill that will save 3.2 million kWh/year of energy

AUGUSTA, Maine , February 9, 2012 (press release) – Efficiency Maine has awarded Irving Forest Products a $471,000 incentive to install a kiln moisture control system that will save the company nearly 15% of their annual energy expense - 3.2 million kilowatt hours a year -- or enough energy to power 530 homes a year.

“The incentives from Efficiency Maine will allow the mill to take advantage of low-cost energy that we otherwise would not be able to access because of high up-front costs,” says Division Manager Susan Coulombe. “By reducing the amount of electricity purchased on the grid, the project will allow Irving to remain more competitive, and reinvest those resources in its people and operations.” The mill currently employs 235 people.

This is the second incentive award that Irving has won through a competitive program run through Efficiency Maine where projects are ranked on the basis of cost effectiveness and project readiness. The first award was a $706,543 incentive for a steam turbine that reduced Irving’s dependence on grid-supplied electricity by 4.2 Million kWh. “Both projects will allow the mill to be at 100% capacity,” added Coulombe, “and that’s something that’s extremely rare in the forest products industry today.”

“By reducing the demand for electricity by 6.5 million kilowatt hours a year, Irving doesn’t merely lower its operating costs, but it lowers the cost of electricity for all Maine ratepayers,” says Ian Burnes Business Program Manager at Efficiency Maine.

Efficiency Maine issued an RFP for its new Competitive Program last September, inviting Maine businesses to compete for funding of large electrical energy efficiency and distributed generation projects. Funding levels ranged from $100,000 to $500,000 per facility, up to 50% of the total project costs. The next round of funding will begin in early February with applications due in late March. For more information, visit:

Kiln Moisture Control
Irving Forest Products currently has no way to monitor the moisture of its wood as it dries. Irving uses a static time-based drying schedule that does not account for wood product variables such as age, seasonality and size. The company identified a need to change its wood product drying processes to improve customer satisfaction, system efficiency and overall costs.

Installation of new controls will allow Irving to monitor the moisture levels of lumber and automate the drying schedule. These changes would reduce energy consumption by allowing the company’s kilns, fans, and boilers to operate more efficiently. By operating more efficient kilns, Irving will also be able to reduce the amount of fuel burned in the boiler and cut greenhouse gases.

Steam Turbine
The Dixfield mill generates steam using three biomass-fed boilers. These boilers provide both process steam to power sawmill operations as well as heating for the complex.
Prior to the project, the boilers’ high-pressure steam output used to power sawmill equipment was inefficient. The new backpressure turbine generator alters the steam pressure to the required process pressures and temperatures.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.