SKOWHEGAN – Sappi North America’s Somerset Mill in Skowhegan now is running on natural gas, and the paper mill is already seeing economic and environmental benefits.

Recently, Summit Natural Gas of Maine completed the final installation of equipment to allow the Somerset Mill to run using natural gas at full capacity.

Representatives from the Somerset Mill project a savings of more than 30 percent by switching to natural gas, in addition to the environmental benefits that include cleaner air and fewer emissions.

“The opportunity to utilize natural gas is essential to maintain the competitive cost position of our Somerset Mill and is another example of our investment in Maine,” said Mark Gardner, president and chief executive officer, Sappi North America.

“Thanks to Summit, we have established access to clean, economical natural gas; this is reducing our energy costs and is better for the environment, and will ensure the long-term profitability of our operations.”

Sappi North America’s Mill in Skowhegan is the seventh-largest coated paper mill in the world, producing more than 2,400 tons of paper per day. The mill also employs more than 700 Maine workers.

Since 2013, Summit has provided natural gas service to residents and businesses in the state as a new lower-cost energy source and valuable option for Maine’s largest industrial companies, from paper mills to hospitals.

“With natural gas, the mill will have an additional energy resource available in their portfolio, providing an additional opportunity to save on their energy costs. We’re proud to provide an energy source that will help keep the Somerset Mill in a cost-competitive position,” said Mike Minkos, president of Summit Natural Gas of Maine.

The Somerset Mill currently uses No. 6 fuel oil and already has plans for how to use the savings from switching to natural gas.

“Initially, we plan to pay for the $24 million project investment that will reduce our cost of manufacturing to remain competitive to other mills that have benefited from natural gas access. The reduced manufacturing cost will improve earnings for further reinvestment and improvements to our processes,” Gardner said.

Natural gas will replace No. 6 fuel oil used in the lime kiln, a savings equivalent to 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil per year. Converting to natural gas also will reduce oil use in the power boiler and decrease the ash load on the environmental equipment.

In addition to serving Sappi North America, Summit Natural Gas of Maine has installed more than 130 miles of pipeline in the Kennebec Valley area, as well as Cumberland, Falmouth and Yarmouth in southern Maine.

In 2014, Summit Natural Gas of Maine has plans to install more than 100 miles of natural gas pipelines to service areas in Maine, more than any other gas company.

To learn more about Summit Natural Gas of Maine’s service areas and its construction projects, call (855) 353-4433 or visit www.summitnaturalgasmaine.com.

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Summit Natural Gas of Maine is proud to bring safe and affordable natural gas service to Sappi North America and communities in southern and central Maine. To learn about our service areas and more information about natural gas, visit www.summitnaturalgasmaine.com. or like us on Facebook.