November 29, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King today applauded the U.S Department of Energy (DOE) decision to select the University of Maine as a regional Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Technical Assistance Partnership (TAP) program designee. The announcement includes $25 million in DOE funding, which will be disbursed over five years to eight new CHP TAP designees, including the University of Maine. The funding aims to advance the installation of cost-effective, highly efficient CHP technologies. CHP technologies can efficiently leverage forest industry byproducts and turn them into added value for local economies, which diversifies energy options for rural industries, increases markets for forest products residuals, and maximizes use of Maine’s natural resources.
“CHP technologies provide an exciting opportunity to explore innovative strategies that lower energy costs and strengthen the Maine economy,” Senator Collins and King said in a joint statement. “By leveraging our state’s natural resources, we can bolster the forest products industry and help create jobs that support our rural communities. We are thrilled the Department of Energy has recognized the University of Maine as a premier research institution that can help industries in Maine further develop the potential of CHP technology.”
"We are thrilled to be part of this important Department of Energy Program,” said Dr. David Dvorak, Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology at the University of Maine. “Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems offer real solutions to today's energy issues: supporting economic development through improved energy efficiency, increased energy resiliency, and lower energy costs. We have a strong team of experts at the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire, and look forward to working together to promote cost-effective energy systems in Maine, New Hampshire, and New England."
With the DOE investment, the University of Maine will become a regional CHP Technical Assistance Partnership (CHP TAP), which enables higher education research centers to provide assistance and analysis for any business looking to invest in CHP technology. This DOE program has supported a wide-range of businesses throughout the country. In Maine, the program has helped multiple businesses install energy-efficient CHP equipment that has saved energy costs. Following Hurricane Maria, some of the only facilities with power in Puerto Rico were hospitals with on-site CHP technology.
In early October, Senator King hosted a Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee field hearing at Robbins Lumber, a fifth-generation family owned sawmill in Searsmont, to discuss how CHP and microgrid technology approaches can support rural industries and communities and to underscore the energy saving potential of colocation energy approaches. Robbins Lumber currently has a CHP facility under construction that will generate electricity and thermal energy from wood waste produced in the region’s logging operations and sawmills. The field hearing included witnesses from the Maine forest products and energy industries as well as the Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Office in the Department of Energy.
In response to input from leaders of the forest products industry at the October ENR field, Senator King introduced the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Support Act, legislation that would help sustain and strengthen rural industries and create jobs by reauthorizing the CHP technical assistance partnership (TAP). Specifically, the CHP Support Act would authorize $12 million in funding for the CHP TAP program each year through Fiscal Year 2022.
The Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT), originally requested by Senators Collins and King in March 2016, recommended the development of markets for forest product residuals including low-value wood in CHP biomass plants, micro-grids, and modern thermal systems. In the EDAT report, the Department of Energy announced support through its CHP Technical Assistance Program to help Maine’s forest industry with feasibility assessments of existing operations to install CHP technology as a strategy to lower costs through generating onsite power.
The DOE’s CHP activities, led by the Office of Advanced Manufacturing, focus on early-stage research and development, as well as public-private partnerships and field validation of CHP technologies.