According to the press release, the Coalition aims to reach a total of 20 million heat pump installations by the end of the decade, with “40% of the benefits flow[ing] to disadvantaged communities.”
The announcement was made at a Climate Week NYC event earlier this week, at which Gov. Mills was present in her capacity as co-chair.
Also at the event were co-chair Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), co-chair elect Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) of New York, and White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi.
“Transitioning to heat pumps in Maine is creating good-paying jobs, curbing our carbon emissions, cutting costs for families, and making people more comfortable in their homes,” Mills said.
“When I took office in 2019, I set a goal of installing 100,000 heat pumps in Maine by 2025,” she continued. “After reaching that goal two years ahead of schedule, we are now on our way to achieving our new target of 275,000 heat pump installations by the time I leave office in 2027.”
“Maine is meeting our climate action goals, and we’re proud to lead the way as part of the U.S. Climate Alliance to encourage other states to do the same,” Mills said.
Gov. Inslee expressed similar sentiments. “Heat pumps are available and affordable, not to mention better for the air we breathe. So our commitment today is good for our planet, and for our people,” he said.
“I am proud to stand side by side with my fellow Governors in the U.S. Climate Alliance to show our commitment to bold action to decarbonize the buildings sector. This coalition continues to prove that when we come together, we can make a greener future more equitable and accessible for all,” Gov. Hochul said.
The White House Climate Advisor also offered remarks.
“Combined with President Biden’s historic climate leadership, these bold commitments by governors to cut emissions from buildings will have a catalytic impact across America. It will clean up the air our children breathe, save hardworking families money on their monthly energy bills, strengthen America’s climate resilience, and create good-paying jobs in every corner of the country,” Zaidi said.
“Thanks to the Biden climate and economic agenda, we have for the first time the resources we need to transition America to a clean energy future and seize the opportunities that come with it,” Zaidi continued. “It’s good news for our economy and good news for our climate and energy security.”
Earlier this year, Mills touted that Maine had met her goal of installing 100,000 heat pumps in the state two years ahead of schedule.
In light of this, Gov. Mills instituted an updated benchmark of having an additional 175,000 heat pumps installed by 2027.
“Since taking office, Governor Mills has prioritized action against climate change in Maine through reducing carbon emissions, transitioning to renewable energy, and making Maine communities more resilient to climate effects,” the Mills administration said of the accomplishment in a press release.
At roughly the same time, however, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized updated guidance regarding the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – a potent greenhouse gas used as a refrigerant.
Although this move, on its own, may seem logical from an environmental standpoint, many energy-efficient heat pumps rely primarily on HFCs in order to function. Consequently, the EPA’s new guidance appears at odds to some extent with efforts to expand the usage of heat pumps.
While the EPA argues that “American consumers are expected to benefit from the transition to environmentally safer alternatives and more energy-efficient cooling technologies,” those who have installed heat pumps over the past few years — or at any point prior to this transition being completed — are likely to find the shift problematic and costly.
Although a number of more environmentally friendly refrigerants are available, it is not always possible to use them interchangeably in systems created with HFCs in mind. Guidance from HVAC professionals suggests that “refrigerants should always only be used in systems specifically designed for them.”
As a result of this, many who have installed or will install HFC-reliant heat pumps in may find themselves needing to retrofit their systems, or replace them entirely, in the coming years in order to use the alternative, eco-friendly refrigerants that are being promoted to replace HFCs.
The goal of transitioning Maine’s residential heating to primarily relying on electricity is also complicated by the rising cost of electricity in the state.
Mainers electricity bills are some of the highest in the nation.
Rates have risen sharply over the past two years, partly because of government policies that subsidies more expensive forms of electricity generation, including solar and wind.
Today’s Climate Week NYC also marked the announcement of several other — more vaguely defined — environmental initiatives by the Coalition, including:
- “Lead[ing] by example through efforts to reduce emissions from state facilities
- “Build[ing] the workforce needed to support the clean energy transition and drive the creation of good-paying, career-pathway jobs”
- “Pursu[ing] innovative solutions that help mitigate volatile energy prices, enhance grid reliability, and promote climate resilience”
- “Advanc[ing] actions that ensure new buildings lead the way to achieve long-term decarbonization goals, including supporting the development of zero-emission building codes and standards”
The Coalition bills itself as “a bipartisan coalition of governors securing America’s net-zero future by advancing state-led, high-impact climate action.”
Click here to read the full press release from the United States Climate Alliance.