BIDDEFORD — A local lawmaker has proposed a bill that would allow low-income Mainers access to heat pumps, which use electricity to both heat and cool homes.

Last week, the Legislative Council voted 8-2 to move the bill forward, and it will be considered by the Legislature early next year. First-term Democratic state Rep. Martin Grohman of Biddeford, who serves on the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, proposed the bill.

“Affordable heating is an emergency issue for lowincome Mainers, and heat pumps are one of the most efficient means to produce energy for heating,” Grohman said in a statement released last week.

Grohman said Wednesday that too many Mainers are locked into a cycle of paying high heating bills for traditional fuel heating systems while also not being able to convert to a more efficient system like heat pumps because of bad credit and other limitations. “There isn’t really an easy way for them to get out of the cycle,” he said.

So he proposed the bill, which would fund the conversion to heat pumps for many Mainers.

If the bill passes, Grohman said there would also be an added benefit to the environment. “Just by getting heating customers off of oil we can improve air quality as well,” he said.

Grohman said the bill has received “good bipartisan support,” and he is pleased and encouraged by that.

“If we don’t act this session, we will need to wait until 2017 to address this important issue,” Grohman later said in an email Wednesday. “And every month we wait means a Mainer in need will not have access to this affordable and efficient heat source.”

— Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


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