Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield has completed a 2,000-square-foot lab that expands the school’s ability to train students to install and repair heat pumps. Photo courtesy of KVCC

FAIRFIELD — Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield has announced completion of a lab that expands the school’s ability to train students to install and repair heat pumps.

College officials said Monday the 2,000-square-foot facility has 10 stations with training equipment that students from a variety of programs can use.

We feel that heat pumps are here to stay,” KVCC President Richard Hopper said Monday during a telephone interview. “They are a really economically smart choice for people to heat and cool their homes.”

College officials said the specialized lab expands student capacity not only for degree and certificate programs in plumbing; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); and sustainable energy systems, but also for short-term training through the KVCC Institute for Workforce Training and Professional Development. 

The project was fully funded through the KVCC Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 1991 with the goal of helping students.

“The development of this new lab was in direct response to Gov. (Janet) Mills’ heat pump bill, signed into law at KVCC in June 2019, aiming to implement more energy-efficient heating solutions for Maine homeowners and businesses,” KVCC officials said in a prepared statement.

“KVCC’s expanded heat pump training capacity will help the state stay on track to reach the goal of the 2019 bill — to ensure the installation of 100,000 heat pumps across Maine by 2025.”

The newly completed lab at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield that expands the school’s ability to train students to install and repair heat pumps. Photo courtesy of KVCC

A heat pump can reduce an average Maine home’s oil consumption by 270 to 540 gallons a year, and reduce a house’s annual carbon emissions by 3,600 to 7,250 pounds, according to experts.

If the state achieves its goal of installing 100,000 residential heat pumps by 2025, consumers could save between $30 million to $60 million annually, according to the Efficiency Maine Trust.

KVCC’s heat pump installation and maintenance training courses are available through academic and professional development programs. The program was developed in partnership with Efficiency Maine. 

“We are thrilled to open this new lab to meet the rapidly growing demand for heat pump installation across Maine” Hopper said in a prepared statement. “This dedicated space also makes it possible for us to expand our training capacity while fully respecting social distancing guidelines during the pandemic.

“This is a wise and strategic investment that will help jumpstart the local economy with essential skills in a growing field.”

Faculty and staff members from KVCC’s electrical technology and HVAC programs helped build the lab, while students from the timber frame carpentry program designed and built the work stations.

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