BANGOR and SCARBOROUGH, Maine — In a continuing effort to support sustainability and energy efficiency in Maine, Northeast Technical Institute has included mini-split heat pumps into their heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration training program. The installation training is made possible through a donation by Bangor Hydro Electric Company.
The mini-split heat pump pilot program was introduced by the Governor’s office and passed by the 125th legislation to allow utility companies like Bangor Hydro Electric and Maine Public Service Company in northern Maine to install 500 heat pumps in each of their own service territories. The pilot program has been an overwhelming success, and now Bangor Hydro is looking to educational institutions like NTI to train the workforce that’s needed to expand the marketplace when the program goes into full effect.
Heat pumps are like air-conditioning systems that can work backwards and heat a home as well as cool the house in the summer. The physics of the technology allows every watt of power you buy from a utility company to produce 3 watts of heat, and that’s 3 watts for the price of one, or 300 percent efficiency.
James LaBrecque, an outside technical adviser on energy for the Governor, steered the adminstration in this direction.
“The Governor’s mandate was to find viable technology that: a) dramatically reduced oil demand for homes; b) provides a fast payback, and; c) requires no federal subsidies,” said LaBrecque. He believes that large scale hydro power running heat pumps throughout Maine can save three hundred million dollars in oil use each year. To accomplish savings like that, LeBrecque believes a large scale technical support effort is needed and NTI is leading that mission.
For the past several months, NTI HVAC Instructor Joe Mishou and his classes have been installing heat pump systems at various homes and business. This past week, Joe and his class installed four heat pumps at the Orono American Legion. The installation of the pumps provides NTI students with valuable hands on experience and helps the American Legion increase its energy efficiency while reducing installation and energy costs.
“This program is a natural extension of our efficiency and sustainability initiatives,” NTI President Jim Liponis said. “NTI is working to improve our commitment to the environment and green technology on our campus. We are using the same heat pumps in our HVAC labs to supplement our heating and cooling needs, while at the same time reducing our carbon footprint.”
“This is part of NTI’s dedication to provide not only high-quality efficient educational opportunities to our students, but to have a high level of quality and efficiency in the way we provide it,” added NTI Safety Committee Chairman Luke Bulley.