Terry Hayes installs a heat pump in a room at Sarah's House in Holden in August 2014. Credit: Ashley L. Conti / BDN

PORTLAND — Several oil and gas companies want to cancel the rebates you can get for buying heat pumps and other electric heating systems.

After a warning from ISO New England about possible blackouts this winter, several groups are calling on New England governors to stop incentivizing heat pumps.

The Maine Energy Marketers Association is one of seven groups calling on all New England governors to issue a moratorium on utility-funded conversions to natural gas and electric heating systems.

“Seven in 10 homes in the state of Maine still use liquid fuels, so it’s important that we keep the infrastructure that’s working while we work towards a greener future,” Maine Energy Marketers Association CEO/President Charlie Summers said.

The letter cites recent warnings by ISO New England that the region is at a heightened risk of power outages this winter due to constrained natural gas supplies and increasing use of electric heat pumps.

“When you consider that in order to keep your home with a heat pump, which are highly efficient but they have to run constantly, which pushes energy bills up, pushes the electric bills up,” Summers said.

“It really doesn’t hold a lot of weight,” Northeast Heat Pumps Owner Ryan Keith said. “There’s a lot of misinformation in what they are calling out.”

Keith said Northeast Heat Pumps installs 30 pumps a week on average.

The title of the letter sent out said “Do not let Texas’ tragedy be repeated in New England.”

Keith said that’s not a fair comparison.

“Down in Texas, the average temperature is just below 50 degrees,” Keith said. “I think it’s 46 degrees in the coldest months, and because of that they don’t have robust heating systems, so what they utilize is electric resistance. Electric resistance heat is the worst heat you can have out there.”

Right now, Mainers who buy a heat pump get a rebate from the state.

Keith said even if the rebate moratorium goes through, the demand is still there, and people will still buy.

“They may be able to stop the funding for a lot of these rebates, but I can almost guarantee if the rebates go away, just the phone calls that we get, it’s not going to stop the heat pumps from being installed because it’s that good, they will continue to install heat pumps even if the rebates go away,” Keith said.

The groups that sent the letter will be holding a press conference via Zoom Thursday at 1 p.m.