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Warmth Pump Wars In Maine

New England and far of the northeast United States suffered by way of a brutal chilly snap recently. The climate observatory atop Mount Washington recorded the coldest wind chill temperature in its historical past — minus 108º F. Such report low temperatures certainly should be knocking the stuffing out the concept a heat pump can hold New Englanders heat in winter, proper?

Really, no. A lot to the shock of many — particularly those that promote heating oil  and propane — a warmth pump designed for operation in low temperatures (not all of them are) is sort of able to functioning simply nice even when the temperature exterior falls beneath zero. That message is getting round. In line with the Washington Post, individuals in Maine are embracing warmth pumps. Maine is probably not the coldest state within the nation, however it’s identified for lengthy winters. Outdated timers have been heard to say the climate in Maine is “9 months of winter and three months of rattling poor sledding.”

Tens of 1000’s of Maine residents have put in heat pumps recently, principally due to the excessive value of heating oil and propane. The electrical energy wanted to function warmth pumps can price a whole lot of {dollars} a month lower than these fossil fuels, which us a reasonably highly effective incentive to make the change. So many have accomplished in order that the oil and gasoline industries have cranked up campaigns designed to sow concern and doubt about these newfangled machines.

Warmth Pump FUD

In line with the Washington Post, the Nationwide Oilheat Analysis Alliance, a commerce affiliation representing heating oil sellers, has funded campaigns preventing electrification that focus on New England owners and actual property brokers. The Power and Coverage Institute, a pro-renewables group, obtained the paperwork by way of a public information request and shared them with newspaper. The alliance’s propane counterpart, the Propane Schooling and Analysis Council, has put out coaching materials teaching installers learn how to dissuade clients from switching to electrical home equipment.

“The ‘electrify every thing’ motion is transferring ahead throughout the Northeast and in different components of the nation with a vengeance,” Richard Carrione, a guide paid by the Nationwide Oilheat Analysis Alliance, wrote final fall in an business journal. “It will likely be incumbent on our business to coach and activate Mainers concerning the pitfalls of electrification,” he wrote. “The battle has simply begun. Keep tuned.”

Love It Or Go away It

Marianna Casagranda, who lives in Freeport, took benefit of a Maine program that assists residents to put in a warmth pump. She says her warmth pump labored nice throughout this previous weekend’s Arctic blast and is delighted at how a lot she is saving on her power payments. Effectivity Maine, a quasi-state company, affords rebates that cowl a part of the price of a warmth pump. As well as, the Inflation Reduction Act offers a brand new federal tax credit score value as a lot as $2,000.

The Maine program promised those that switched to a warmth pump they might have their previous propane furnace again in the event that they weren’t glad. To this point, none have requested to take action. Casagranda mentioned she is greater than glad. “It’s comfy. It’s quiet. It’s actually a great system. I’m actually excited our state is so ahead pondering, and we now have to be, as a result of we reside in a drop-dead beautiful a part of this nation and we’re invested in preserving it that method.” When temperatures exterior her door dropped beneath zero final weekend, she says, “The home was nice!”

The Maine Power Entrepreneurs Affiliation, the oil business’s voice on the state degree, is selling a special message on its website. It warns that almost all Maine owners can’t depend on warmth pumps as a sole supply of heating. It says that as a result of warmth pumps run on electrical energy that’s nonetheless made by burning pure gasoline they’re “no greener than the furnace in your basement. Total, warmth pumps haven’t sometimes been common in locations with climates just like the Northeast.”

Even accounting for utilizing electrical energy generated by burning fossil fuels, researchers have discovered that switching to a warmth pump often reduces a building’s carbon emissions. “It’s a easy truth {that a} high-efficiency cold-climate warmth pump saves carbon relative to utility gasoline (methane), gas oil, or [liquefied petroleum] gasoline, in just about each electrical market within the U.S., and definitely in the entire Northeast,” Bruce Harley, a veteran power guide primarily based in Vermont, mentioned in an e-mail.

It’ll Break The Grid!

The Maine Power Entrepreneurs Affiliation raised questions on warmth pump viability by suggesting they might tax the area’s electrical grid. In 2021, ISO New England, the state’s energy grid operator, warned of rolling blackouts due to provide chain points affecting pure gasoline. But the commerce group’s president blamed the state of affairs on the state’s promotion of warmth pumps.

“Our energy grid just isn’t geared up to deal with the demand that’s now being placed on it,” Charles Summers mentioned in a radio interview. Summers mentioned he and his fellow business group leaders in New England had despatched letters to their governors “asking that states pushing so laborious towards electrification, pushing full conversion to warmth pumps, simply faucet the brakes for a couple of minutes.”

Oddly sufficient, these kinds of warnings seldom come from grid operators. They at all times come from particular curiosity teams with an ax to grind. If a warmth pump revolution is a risk to {the electrical} grid, don’t you suppose the grid operator ought to be the one to ship that message?

Many CleanTechnica readers will recall that when Texas skilled report chilly temperatures in 2021, the governor blamed renewables for electrical energy blackouts regardless that many of the issues have been attributable to failures within the state’s methane supply system.

In interviews and emails with the Washington Put up, officers affiliated with the heating oil and propane teams all sought to distance themselves from the anti-electrification efforts. Michael Devine, president of the Nationwide Oilheat Analysis Alliance, mentioned his group has performed no function crafting its state-level associates’ messaging. As a result of it’s a federally chartered commerce affiliation, the cash it collects on charges is meant to be spent on analysis, coaching, and shopper schooling. “We could pay the invoices for these consultants, however we don’t rent them,” mentioned Devine, including that state teams have autonomy over their particular person campaigns. Jeeze, may you be any extra of a weasel phrase artist, Michael?

The Warmth Pump & Aroostook County

Aroostook County in Maine is without doubt one of the coldest components of a chilly state. It’s that massive bulge on the northern tip of the state that juts far into Canada. You may suppose it’s a spot the place the warmth pump wouldn’t be welcome, however you’d be incorrect.

Regardless of the bitter chilly, residents and companies are embracing the warmth pump. Demand “has simply exploded,” Keith Ouellette, a warmth pump installer in Aroostook County tells the Washington Put up. “When individuals name me, it’s not like they are saying, ‘Promote me on it.’ They’re already bought. They’re asking, ‘When are you able to come?’” He says the standard knowledge {that a} warmth pump works greatest as a complement to an oil or propane. furnace has flipped. “Most individuals use it for his or her major heating system.”

“In the event that they actually didn’t work within the chilly, you’d suppose individuals would cease shopping for this stuff, however they haven’t,” says Michael Stoddard, govt director of Effectivity Maine. In a state with fewer than 600,000 occupied housing items, the company has already given out rebates for 116,000 warmth pumps, excess of its unique purpose of 100,000 items by 2025. Whereas Stoddard mentioned some have been skeptical of the company’s preliminary efforts to recruit installers and increase the market, now there may be little doubt that warmth pumps can perform in chilly climates, and his company is experimenting with new makes use of comparable to cellular properties.

The Takeaway

Throughout the nation, comparable turf wars are taking part in out, the Put up says. As extra cities ban gasoline hookups in new buildings and a few states provide incentives for residents to ditch their furnaces, business teams are preventing again with an array of anti-electrification messaging. The teachings from the tobacco business are actually utilized routinely by any group who sees their income jeopardized by new applied sciences, whether or not it’s electrical vehicles or renewable power from photo voltaic panels and wind generators.

The message right here was distilled by Mark Twain a few years in the past on this pithy saying: “What you don’t know gained’t harm you close to as a lot as what you do know that ain’t true.” The FUD conflict towards the warmth pump is over. The warmth pump gained, not due to any ideological benefit, however as a result of it does just about what an oil or propane furnace does for much less cash. Not even the lies and innuendos of business commerce teams can offset the details. Case closed.


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