The startup of the last month of a new $6 million turbine and condenser system leaves Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC a nearly self-sufficient electricity generator, capping nearly $10 million in improvements undertaken over the last year, its co-owner said. Mill co-owner Keith Van Scotter said it was difficult to determine whether the tissue manufacturing plant has recovered from a smelt water explosion in a chemical recovery boiler in November 2013. The destruction of the boiler forced the layoff ultimately of about 185 millworkers, a Maine Department of Labor spokeswoman said recently.
But the energy efficiency improvements, plus the installation of about $3 million in new pulping equipment and pulp conveyors in August, have Van Scotter and partner John Wissman feeling bullish about the mill’s prospects for continued survival in a very tough manufacturing market, Van Scotter said. “John and I will have been here 11 years at the end of May. If I had been able to take bets on everybody who thought we would fail, I wouldn’t have to work for a living,” Van Scotter said. “Business is hard, but we have good people, our customers love us, and our suppliers have always been treating us well. “I feel good about the business. We have invested the money because we believe in it,” Van Scotter added.
The biomass steam turbine will not sell power to the grid, said Van Scotter, who declined to comment on how much money the improvements will save his company.