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August 02, 2019

King, Collins Introduce Bill to Reduce Energy Costs, Support Rural Maine Economy

The legislation would help support rural industries and encourage energy efficiency

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Support Act, legislation that would support businesses that want to invest in energy efficiency technology, help diversify energy options for rural industries, and maximize Maine’s natural resources. 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. Currently, there are ten regional CHP TAP designated centers including the University of Maine which serves the New England region.

“Maine is blessed with tremendous natural resources, and it’s up to us to come up with innovative ways to use those resources to support local economies, encourage energy efficiency and reduce waste,” said Senator King. “Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnerships play an important role in that effort, empowering institutions like the University of Maine to help businesses invest in CHP and provide new low-cost energy sources to Maine consumers. CHP technology can turn forest byproducts into fuel – it’s an excellent example of Maine ingenuity, and is a major opportunity for our state’s rural communities.”

"The Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnerships help inform communities about the many benefits of using CHP and waste heat to power technologies to provide an efficient, clean source of electricity.  The University of Maine, a CHP TAP designee, has already been a major asset to the forest products industry by providing technical assistance, education, and outreach on CHP technology," said Senator Collins.  "Our bipartisan bill would reauthorize this important program, which supports innovative strategies that can lower energy costs and strengthen Maine's economy."

“Maine is a national leader when it comes to the utilization of wood for energy.  Recent state legislative action has provided a path forward for the expanded use of wood for both heat and power,” said Dana Doran, Executive Director, Professional Logging Contractors of Maine. “Loggers and truckers in Maine, who rely heavily upon wood energy markets, applaud Senator King and Senator Collins for their efforts to complement state action with common sense federal legislation that will help expand our markets.  The DOE Technical Assistance program can provide important tools to assist Maine in expanding market opportunities for wood energy to make Maine more energy independent.”

"Every biomass power facility produces heat as it generates electricity from forest residues and agricultural byproducts," said Bob Cleaves, President and CEO, Biomass Power Association. "Capturing and utilizing that heat will enable biomass power producers to create even more value out of the fuel they use - an extra source of revenue and cleanly produced heat for a biomass power facility's neighbors. We support Sen. King and Collins’s CHP Support Act, which will help our members become CHP capable."

“The Alliance for Industrial Efficiency applauds Senators King and Collins for their leadership in introducing legislation to authorize the Department of Energy’s Combined Heat and Power Technical Partnership Program (“CHP TAPs”),” said David Gardiner, Executive Director, Alliance for Industrial Efficiency. “The CHP TAPs help unleash the potential of combined heat and power (CHP) and waste heat to power (WHP) systems, which are a proven and effective means for reducing energy use in the industrial sector and beyond. We are proud to support this important legislation, which will enhance American competitiveness, reduce harmful emissions, create jobs, and improve resilience for businesses as well as critical infrastructure like hospitals, airports, universities, and more.”

Senator King originally introduced the CHP Act in 2017, after he hosted an 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. Robbins Lumber recently completed construction of a CHP facility that generates electricity and thermal energy from wood waste produced in the region’s logging operations and sawmills. 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 Collins and King are strong supporters of revitalizing Maine’s forest economy. In September 2018, Senators Collins and King 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, micro grids, 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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