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November 19, 2019

King Bill to Reduce Energy Costs, Boost Maine Economy Passes Key Senate Committee

The Combined Heat and Power Support Act would help support rural industries and encourage energy efficiency

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Support Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee where he serves. The bill would support businesses seeking to invest in energy efficiency technology, diversify energy options for rural industries, and maximize the value of Maine’s natural resources. U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) is an original cosponsor of this legislation, which will now advance to the Senate floor for consideration.

“This bill highlights Maine ingenuity and innovation by developing the best ways to make use of our natural resources to bolster rural economies, encourage energy efficiency, and reduce energy costs,” said Senator King, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “The CHP Support Act designates Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnerships , like the Northeast regional TAP at the University of Maine, to help businesses invest in CHP and provide new low-cost energy sources to Maine consumers. Developing cleaner power in a way that supports rural economies should not be a partisan issue – today’s committee vote is a win for Maine’s economy, and I look forward to its consideration on the Senate floor.”

“Combined heat and power systems are cost-effective and environmentally friendly sources of energy that have proven to help businesses cut electricity and heating bills,” said Senator Collins.  “Our bill to reauthorize the Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnership Program would provide businesses with the information they need to install these highly efficient systems.” 

“The Combined Heat and Power Alliance applauds the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for passing bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Department of Energy Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnerships.” said David Gardiner, Executive Director of the Combined Heat and Power Alliance. “This legislation will advance combined heat and power, which will reduce energy use, increase economic competitiveness, enhance resilience, and reduce emissions for the nation’s hospitals, universities, and manufacturing sites. We thank Senator King for his leadership and continuing support for this important and timely legislation.”

The CHP Support Act reauthorizes and funds the CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships (TAP) program for the next five years – a program that has helped multiple Maine businesses install energy-efficient CHP equipment and save on energy costs. The CHP TAP program enables higher education research centers to provide assistance and analysis for any business looking to invest in CHP technology and has supported a wide range of businesses throughout the country. In addition to the Combined Heat and Power Alliance, other organizations that have expressed support for this legislation include the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), the American Chemistry Council (ACC), and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Senator King originally introduced the CHP Act in 2017, after he hosted a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee field hearing at Robbins Lumber in Searsmont. 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 (DOE). During the hearing, Senator King’s committee colleagues identified opportunities to use new energy-efficient technologies to sustain and strengthen rural industries. Following the event, the University of Maine was designated as a regional CHP TAP institution by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in November 2017.

Senators King and Collins are strong supporters of revitalizing Maine’s forest economy. In September 2018, Senators King and Collins applauded an action plan released by the Forest Opportunity Roadmap (FOR/Maine) Initiative, an industry-led initiative that aims to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract investments, and develop greater economic prosperity for rural communities impacted by mill closures. The FOR/Maine Initiative was funded in part by the Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) requested by the Senators in 2016 in order to create strategies for job growth and economic development in Maine’s rural communities. The EDAT recommended the development of markets for forest products residuals including low-value wood in CHP biomass plants, microgrids, and modern thermal systems, and helped Maine’s forest industry with feasibility assessments of existing operations to install CHP technology as a strategy to lower costs through generating onsite power 

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