FAIRFIELD — Dana Doran shared with Rep. Mike Michaud that Kennebec Valley Community College is onto something.

Doran, KVCC’s director of energy programs, gave Maine’s 2nd District U.S. congressman a tour Friday of the college’s Northeast Solar Heating and Cooling Instructor Training Project.

Michaud checked out the campus windmill, solar energy equipment, pellet boiler, wood boiler, pellet furnace, wood stove and geothermal exchanger — technology that could help more Mainers wean themselves off oil.

Michaud said he was displeased that this year’s federal money was reduced for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and he has urged President Barack Obama to return full funding for LIHEAP in his proposed 2013 budget.

The technology at the college in Fairfield can reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil, Michaud said.

And in Maine, where Michaud said about 80 percent of homes are heated with oil, there’s room for improvement.

“We need to do anything we can do to look at longer-term solutions,” Michaud said after examining an auto pellet boiler. “This (technology) represents savings and jobs in Maine.”

Doran agreed. Wood pellets, for instance, cost about $200 a ton and heat a home for about half the cost of an oil furnace.

In addition, Doran said, the product comes from Maine woods rather than an oil field in a foreign country.

“It’s great to be in the renewable energy field,” Doran said. “We provide the foundation of skills for students in plumbing and welding and heating and they take away the skills in renewable energy fields to use in the changing marketplace.”

Michaud also said Friday he intends to “keep pushing” the importance of traditional manufacturing jobs in Maine, including an effort to get the military to buy American-made footwear.

Michaud visited the New Balance factory in Skowhegan last summer to promote the effort. The company is the only major producer of athletic shoes that still makes them in the U.S.

“It’s a no-brainer,” he said.

The military would save money by buying footgear in bulk rather than giving each soldier an allowance to buy their shows individually, Michaud said.

He added that the requirement would preserve and provide for jobs at plants like New Balance, which employs 800 people in Maine.

The former employee of Great Northern Paper Company said it is also a matter of national security. Military footgear, he said, should not be made in countries where it could be intentionally tampered with.

Michaud said he sent Obama a letter asking him to direct the Department of Defense to buy American footwear. He said he handed a copy of the same letter to first lady Michelle Obama when she visited Maine.

“I intend to continue pushing the issue,” Michaud said.

The congressman has disagreed with the president on several issues and said he said he wants to a chance to talk with Obama about the “actions of the administration that are contrary to what he said when he ran for president.”

While he wouldn’t vote for any of the current Republican nominees, Michaud said Friday he had not yet determined how much he will campaign for Obama in advance of the fall election.

Michaud will have his own campaigning to do as Republican Kevin Raye, president of the Maine Senate, has announced he will challenge Michaud for the 2nd District seat.

Michaud, who took office in 2003, said he’ll turn some of his attention to campaigning around Labor Day.

“There’s so much more we have got to do,” he said.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

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