The University of Maine at Farmington will hold an energy forum to speak with the public about the university’s previous decision to “explore alternative energy services” after Summit Natural Gas told the school it could not guarantee a gas pipeline to Farmington could be built by 2016.

UMF had been negotiating over the timeline and the price for a natural gas contract in anticipation of being the largest customer of the town’s first ever natural gas pipeline, but now is back to looking at its options after the proposed project was repeatedly delayed.

The public forum “New Directions in Farmington’s Energy Future,” sponsored by the Sustainable Campus Coalition, will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in room 101 in the UMF Roberts Learning Center, according to a press release from UMF.

When the university announced Oct. 31 that it would again explore its energy options, it created doubt among town business and government leaders over the possibility of the gas pipeline coming to Farmington at all. Summit officials previously stated that to justify building the costly pipeline out to Farmington it would need guaranteed large customers — specifically UMF.

UMF students, faculty and staff, town and state officials, educators and members of the community have been invited to participate in the forum.

“Recent developments highlight the timeliness and value of this open discussion,” a UMF press release states. “These include Summit Natural Gas’ announcement that it will not be able to deliver natural gas to the campus, the approval by the University of Maine System board of trustees of the construction of a UMF central heating plant and the growing use of wood biomass as a heating source throughout area schools, businesses and homes.”

The UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition previously voiced support for alternative fuels like wood pellets instead of contracting for natural gas.

The coalition has a long-term goal of UMF having a zero net impact on greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, and in the coalition’s report on carbon neutrality, natural gas is only mentioned when listed as a nonrenewable energy that the campus should move away from.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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