A North American First – Steam Exploded Wood Pellet Plant Brings More Jobs and Opportunity to Aroostook County
MaineFlame Inc announced on March 16th, 2023, that it has embarked on a 7-million-dollar expansion of its log manufacturing plant located at the repurposed Levesque Mill Site in Ashland Maine. This latest expansion will see the addition of steam exploded wood pellets for heating and industrial power needs both domestically and overseas. Steam exploded pellets are seen in the industry as a suitable renewable energy wood replacement, and/or supplement, for coal fired power generation plants along with many other energy uses.
Owner and Aroostook County native Tyler Player, who owns MaineFlame, engineering firm Player Design INC (PDI) and K-Pel Industries in Fort Fairfield stated, “As an Aroostook County native, I am proud that our group of companies can bring further opportunity with the repurposed mill site in Ashland. That site has supported the forest products industry for generations until its unfortunate closure a few years ago. With the initial opening of MaineFlame’s compressed log operation in 2020, we invested 6 million dollars then to find a way to not only repurpose Maine waste wood, but also repurpose a former mill site. We did so while reducing the environmental impacts and air emissions historically associated with the site. With this next round of investment, we will be building on that success.
We have briefed local leaders, state legislators and the Commissioner of DEP through the development process, and with further permitting work being finalized, we have greatly appreciated their encouragement and support throughout. Everyone agrees that helping Maine reach its job growth goals in both the renewable energy sector and forest products sector while also improving the impacts of the former mill site is a win-win, not only for the region but also the entire state.”
Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, a fifth-generation logger from Allagash, expressed his support for the expansion, saying, “MaineFlame’s announcement is great news for the regions, the County and the entire state of Maine. This expansion will create more quality, good-paying jobs in both the renewable energy and forest products industries, while also increasing demand for those working in the Maine woods. It’s a win on all fronts. Economic opportunities like this make it easier for young folks to envision a future for themselves in the County and makes it easier for those who have left to return home and raise their family.
Restoring the former mill site to a symbol of pride and future opportunity really means something to this County and community. I’m just excited for work on the expansion to get started so we can begin to realize this transformation.”
At the Ashland site in 2021-2022, MaineFlame completed successful trials of the state-of-the-art steam pellet technology which became known throughout the pellet industry and generated new business partnerships for the product both home and abroad.
With increasing renewable energy demands worldwide, especially in European markets, increased opportunities have been created for Maine-Based wood renewables and overseas shipments are much anticipated.
Internal expansion planning was completed in 2022 with construction commencement simply awaiting final permitting approval. With said approval, MaineFlame is targeting construction completion by the end of 2023 and fall 2023 start-up. Initial plant output is slated for 30,000 tons annually with further investments in future expansion a company goal. Overall, the plant is targeted to employ 20-30 employees directly while supporting dozens more in related local industries.