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NY-GEO to Represent Geothermal Heat Pump Interests Across the Empire State

In early August, geothermal heat pump (GHP) stakeholders put the finishing touches on a new trade association that promises to increase market penetration and sales across New York State—the New York Geothermal Energy Organization (NY-GEO).

“Our intent is to play an active role in quality assurance for the industry while raising the profile of GHPs among consumers through fresh, new marketing efforts,” said NY-GEO President John Franceschina (PSEG Long Island Manager of Residential Efficiency Programs). NY-GEO is a New York State not-for-profit corporation, with 67 Founding Members. According to Franceschina, the association’s goals are to:

  • Provide its members with marketing tools to better convey the benefits of GHPs to potential customers, policy makers, and the public;
  • Develop standards and quality control that will advance the reputation of this revolutionary technology; and
  • Advocate for enlightened policy and legislation that support the widespread adoption of GHPs in New York State as an integral part of the state’s transition to clean energy.

Helping stakeholders kick off the new organization is its Executive Director, Bill Nowak. “NY-GEO is extremely fortunate that Bill joined our team as Executive Director, to lead day-to-day operations with the perfect blend of demeanor, experience and passion,” said Franceschina.

California Releases Geothermal Heat Pump Evaluation Report

130924-California-Energy-Commission-LOGOAt the end of July, the California Energy Commission (CEC) released its Staff Paper, Geothermal Heat Pump and Ground Loop Technologies. The report provides a brief overview of the technology, and details the barriers faced by the geothermal heat pump (GHP) industry. It also provides proposed solutions suggested by industry and CEC staff responses.

Assembly Bill 2339 required the CEC to evaluate policies to overcome barriers to the use of GHP and geothermal ground loop technologies in California, and to include these evaluations and recommendations in the 2013 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR). The statute required the CEC to consider:

  • The Quantitative benefits and costs to ratepayers in reference to safety, reliability, cost and efficiency.
  • Existing statutory and permit requirements as they affect GHPs.
  • Effect of the use of GHP and ground loop technologies on achieving the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The CEC convened a workshop on March 21, 2013, then developed a working group comprised of state agencies, cities, counties, and “interested parties” to begin evaluation of current policies. The Staff Paper outlines the input received during the working group process and provides additional detail on the high‐level discussion included in the 2013 IEPR.

The CEC Staff Paper covers topics including California Building Energy Efficiency Standards modeling compliance, local permitting and fee schedules, installation practices, borehole standards, well log data, tiered electricity rates, and utility‐based loop lease programs. The paper also addresses the GHP industry’s request for consideration of geothermal heat pumps as a renewable resource, and estimating avoided greenhouse gas emissions.

Landmark Legislation Promotes Renewable Heating and Cooling in Massachusetts

MassachusettsSealThe Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a comprehensive renewable thermal energy bill that will promote the use of clean renewable fuels and technologies to heat and cool buildings. Passed unanimously by the Massachusetts Senate on June 19, the bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Deval Patrick (D) within the next 10 days. It will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

SB 2214 provides financial incentives for several thermal renewable energy heating and cooling alternatives. These include geothermal and air source heat pumps; solar heating; and bio-fuels such as wood pellets, wood chips, renewable bio-oils, or renewable natural gas.  By awarding credits to renewable heating and cooling technologies, the bill provides a powerful financial incentive to invest in and develop these technologies.

The Massachusetts Renewable Thermal Coalition, a group representing over 40 local businesses and regional trade associations was primary advocate for the bill. Leading Coalition members include the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO), the Massachusetts Forest Alliance; the New England Geothermal Professionals Association, the Solar Energy Industries Association, Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas; and the Biomass Thermal Energy Council.

“Passage of SB 2214 is great news, and a huge victory for the geothermal heat pump industry in Massachusetts and across the country,” said GEO President and CEO Doug Dougherty. “We provided technical and financial assistance to the effort, and worked the bill at the grassroots level. In late-July, we called each of our manufacturer members’ distributors and dealers in the state, prompting at least 15 to personally call the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means in support of the bill.”

According to Coalition leaders: “While the bill provides for powerful new financial incentives, it does so without creating new spending. Instead, renewable heating and cooling technologies will now qualify for Alternative Energy Credits under the Commonwealth’s existing Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (APS).”

The Massachusetts APS was established in 2009 to reward businesses and homeowners for installing eligible alternative energy systems.

GEO at ASHRAE Seattle

DougASHRAEThe American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) convened its 2014 Annual Conference from June 28 to July 2 at the Sheraton Seattle and the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, WA.

A track devoted to Ground Source Heat Pumps State of the Art: Design, Performance and Research addressed those topics in all applications. The track attracted researchers from around the world to discuss technology advances and to learn about the latest research and state-of-the-art practices.

The track was developed by ASHRAE, the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO), the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), and the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA). GEO President and CEO Doug Dougherty (left) provided the keynote presentation for the track, Market Barriers and Market Drivers for the U.S. Geothermal Heat Pump Industry. “It was great,” he said. “Every session room was filled to capacity with scores of participants eager to learn more about several game-changing geothermal technology developments presented during the conference.”

“Our goal was to help practicing engineers understand where the industry began, where it stands currently, and where it is headed,” said chief track organizer Dr. Jeff Spitler, Regents Professor, Building and Environmental Thermal Systems Department at Oklahoma State University. “During the ASHRAE Geothermal Technical Committee meeting, a fourth of participants said they attended the conference solely for the geothermal track,” said GEO Member and track organizer Lisa Meline (Meline Engineering – Sacramento, CA).

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