BAILEYVILLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- An old warehouse, that has sat vacant for a decade after the Georgia Pacific paper mill closed, now has a new lease on life, that could bring economic opportunities in the form of energy savings to rural parts of the state.
"It is good to see something here, but even more than that, it is good to know that now we can hopefully turn around the trend of businesses leaving Maine due to our energy costs," stated Clyde Coleman, director of engineering for Xpress Natural Gas.
The warehouse has been completely gutted, and looks like a giant gas station, which in a sense it is.
A spur off the natural gas pipeline, which runs to the nearby Woodland Pulp mill, sits in one corner of the facility, with an assortment of pipes, and gauges attached to it.
This is where Xpress Natural Gas gets their steady supply of gas, which it dries to ensure quality, and then compresses into large, specially designed trailer trucks that allow natural gas to be shipped anywhere throughout the Northeast.
"It is a lot cheaper to use the compressed natural gas because it is in a gas state already," explained Coleman. "The LNG side of it requires a lot of expensive equipment."
The box trailers have four separate composite carbon fiber tanks in them, which can handle a tremendous amount of pressure and be reused time and again to transport natural gas.
"This isn't for your residential customer," said Coleman. "You need a certain amount of expensive equipment to handle the compressed gas, cut it to pressure that is usable, and reheat it."
But for a large consumer with a year-round need for energy, like a paper mill or a manufacturer, the conversion to natural gas can pay for itself in as little as a couple month's time.
"Most customers are finding at least one-third savings," he said.
For many rural communities in Maine, having access to cheaper, cleaner natural gas has long been a pipe dream.
"There is going to be large portions of Maine that are never going to have a pipeline, or it is going to be 10 years or 15 years before they have a pipeline," said Chris Green, president of Mechanical Services, a company that specializes in heating and cooling solutions. "There are other solutions that are out there, such as compressed natural gas."
With the facility in Baileyville going on line in early March, many energy consumers are now looking into the viability of making a conversion from oil to gas.
"It is cutting edge technology, but it is technology that is certainly going to reduce the costs of most businesses," explained Green. "It is going to help Maine businesses be competitive in the nation and the world economy."
Green says compressed natural gas will not only help companies save money, but the industry is creating jobs as well.
"These compression stations need people to work there. The decompression stations have to be built by somebody. "These trucks have to be driven by somebody," he explained. "Overall it is good for Maine, it is good for Maine people, and it is good for Maine businesses."