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February 8, 2012 | last updated February 8, 2012 11:15 am

Grants fund energy projects at USM, Irving mill

The University of Southern Maine and Irving Forest Products have each received funding from Efficiency Maine for energy-efficiency projects. The University of Southern Maine has received a $135,000 competitive grant to improve lighting on its Gorham campus, while Irving received $471,000 to install a kiln moisture control system.

The USM grant, combined with $200,000 in USM funds, allows the university to make lighting improvements that will save an estimated 676,000 kilowatt-hours per year, reducing its annual utility bill by more than $70,000, according to a press release. USM will switch all parking lot and campus roadway fixtures in Gorham to LED lighting and replace lighting fixtures in the Costello Sports Complex's Field House, Hill Gymnasium and Ice Arena with more efficient options. Contractor Leading Edge Design Group is scheduled to begin the work in the Costello Sports Complex during the week of Feb. 20, while parking lot and roadway fixtures will be installed later this year. When the projects are completed, USM's investment will be paid back with cost savings in less than three years.

Irving's moisture control system will allow it to better monitor moisture levels of drying wood to use less energy and allow the kilns, fans and boilers to operate more efficiently, according to a separate release. The new system will shave the company's annual energy expense by 15%. The Dixfield mill employs 235 people.

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