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Maine Governor Announces New Incentives Aimed At Boosting Use Of Energy Efficient Heat Pumps

Mal Leary
Maine Public
Maine Gov. Janet Mills announces new incentives to encourage Maine businesses and homes to install heat pumps, at the F.W. Webb company in Augusta, Jan. 14, 2020.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills Tuesday announced new incentives intended to encourage more Maine homes and businesses to install energy efficient heat pumps."Transitioning to heat pumps instead of costly, inefficient and environmentally harmful heating oil will reduce Maine's dependency on fossil fuels," Mills said at a morning news conference in Augusta. "It will stabilize energy costs. It will support energy efficiency jobs, which also, in turn, attracts young families to Maine, and skilled workers here to our state."

For some models of heat pumps, the state is doubling its rebate for a first unit, from $500 to $1,000. Other models retain the current rebate of $500 for a first unit. In both cases, smaller rebates apply for a second unit. Larger rebates are available for homeowners who qualify for the heating assistance program known as LIHEAP, Mills said.

Heat pumps contain reversible condensers that extract heat from outside in winter to heat a home, and extract heat from inside during summer to cool it. 

The governor told reporters that the devices will not only heat and cool Maine homes, but will save consumers money in the long run. "Money in our pockets, money that stays here at home - for public education, for health care, for public safety - instead of padding the pockets of wealthy oil and gas financiers and investors."

The Maine Legislature passed a bill last session that funds the increased rebates. The money comes from the Efficiency Maine Trust, which - the governor pointed out - does not receive taxpayer dollars.

Efficiency Maine Executive Director Michael Stoddard said the incentives position Maine for the future."You know, a generation from now, we're going to look back and remember 2020 as the year the Maine heat pump revolution took off," he said.

The governor has set a goal of 100,000 heat pump installations by 2025.

Updated Jan. 14, 2019 at 2:06 p.m. ET.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.