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Janet Mills increases state heat pump goals after hitting milestone two years early

Murray Carpenter
Maine Public
White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi (from left), Maine Community College System President David Daigler and Maine Gov. Janet Mills inspect a heat pump.

Gov. Janet Mills has made heat pumps a cornerstone of her climate plan, as a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money on heating.

Four years ago, at Kennebec Valley Community College, Mills pledged to have 100,000 heat pumps installed in Maine by 2025. On Friday, she said Maine has achieved that goal two years ahead of time.

As a result, she's doubling down on that commitment.

"And so I'm also pleased to announce that we're setting a new goal, my administration, of installing another 175,000 heat pumps by 2027," Mills said.

Mills spoke in Kennebec Valley Community College's heat pump workforce training lab, and noted that the Maine Community College System has trained more than 550 heat pump technicians over the past four years.

"Transitioning to heat pumps is creating good-paying jobs and curbing carbon emissions and cutting costs of Maine families, while making those families more comfortable in their homes," Mills said. "It's a hat trick for our state."

Mills said she is grateful for the support of the Biden administration, which is sending Maine than $70 million for rebates to help consumers weatherize their homes, and install heat pumps and other green technology.

The governor was joined at the event by White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi, who said it's easy to get overwhelmed by the grim climate news.

"But today we see proof that not only can we do something about it, but it's a story of hope and possibilities, for our economy, for our families, and for working people all across America," Zaidi said.

Zaidi also pointed out that Maine sets an example for other states, because if heat pumps work well here, they should do fine in warmer regions.

Mills was also joined by a number of heat pump installers, including Scott Libby of Royal River Heat Pumps. He said he started out as a one-man shop ten years ago, and he now employs more than 50 people.

"We have installed tens of thousands, the numbers are mind-blowing, all of those are within one hour of Freeport," Libby said. "So tens of thousands along the coast of Maine. The numbers are pretty incredible."

And those numbers could grow even more quickly over the next four years.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.