SACO — We were proud to attend a White House event this past week honoring our company CEO and business partner, Adam Cote, as a “Champion of Change” for his role as a veteran advancing clean energy and climate security.

Our company, Thermal Energy Storage of Maine, offers technology that allows Mainers to heat their home or business for the equivalent of $2.25 to $2.90 per gallon of home heating oil using affordable, off-peak electricity and delivery rates.

The technology is simple: Electric thermal storage heating systems look like a typical space heater or full-house furnace, but are actually insulated “boxes” filled with ceramic bricks and high-tech digital controls. At night, when electric power is less in demand and therefore less expensive – ETS systems automatically heat the bricks and release that heat as needed to keep your home comfortable throughout the day.

ETS heating systems are dependable and have been used for decades in some of the coldest parts of the U.S., Canada and Europe. Today, Mainers can get ETS whole house or supplemental heating systems from some of the most trusted and well-known companies across Maine, including Dead River Co., Central Maine Power, Madison Electric Works, Houlton Water Co. and Kennebunk Power and Light. In fact, CMP customers can get a rebate of $1,500 off ETS supplemental heating systems and $4,500 off whole-house systems through Dec. 31.

Back to the White House event this past Tuesday: The event was attended by senior representatives from the White House and Obama administration, including the president’s Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough, the Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley and several senior leaders from the Department of Defense.

TESM’s CEO Cote was selected as one of 12 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who are making a difference for our country on clean energy and climate security, and the White House arranged for him to briefly join the event by telephone from Afghanistan, where he is serving as a company commander of the Maine Army National Guard 133rd Engineering Battalion’s Task Force Black Bear.

Cote spoke about how ETS heating systems are both an economical home heating solution for individual Maine families and a way to convert intermittently generated renewable power (wind, wave, solar, tidal) into a stable, secure and local source of power and heat at the grid level.

Many speakers at the event echoed the importance of energy storage, noting that if you care about energy efficiency, you need to care about having an electric grid that can make use of renewable energy. Today, when the wind is blowing “too strongly,” power systems are forced to “turn off” or curtail the generation, in effect wasting 100 percent of the potential energy in favor of coal- or gas-fired load management systems.

Maine has an opportunity to become a national leader when it comes to efficiently integrating locally generated renewable power from a variety of sources.

Does that sound too distant or theoretical? Well, it isn’t. Take a look about 400 miles to the north. New Brunswick, Canada, has a program called “PowerShift Atlantic.” The goal? Integrate 800 megawatts of locally generated wind power into the power grid – and replace the need for an inefficient, 1970s oil-fired power plant currently used to balance load and demand.

How are is the goal being accomplished? New Brunswick Power is installing controlled electric thermal storage space and water heaters in homes, businesses and institutions such as schools and hospitals. Currently, it has 1,000 megawatts of remote-controlled storage and when the goal of 10,000 megawatts is reached, the utility will be able to manage its local renewable power load fluctuations and literally “turn off” the oil-fired power plant.

So, Mainers, energy storage is a heating option for you right now. And, energy storage technology is something we should consider as a potential strategic advantage and leadership opportunity for Maine. That’s what Cote was saying this week during the White House event – and that is something we believe as well.

— Special to the Press Herald