Why GHPs Should be a Carbon Reduction Offset for Coal-Fired Power Plants
The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging that renewable thermal energy and geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) be recognized in its proposed rulemaking under Section 111(d) of the U.S. Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. The proposed rule allows flexibility in meeting the agency’s desired emissions reductions across the nation, including renewable energy and energy efficiency.
In building its case for GHPs, GEO emphasized the efficiency that the technology can bring to EPA’s expected mandates, and benefits of more widespread use by reducing fossil-fuels consumption, leveling utility loads, and cutting carbon emissions from existing power plants across the United States.
“The encouragement of GHP technology is one of the few policy initiatives that can simultaneously and cost-effectively help states and EPA advance the concepts in Building Block 3 (with respect to renewables) and Building Block 4 (with respect to energy efficiency and reduction in demand),” said GEO President and CEO Doug Dougherty. “GEO asks that another, logical step be taken by EPA and State clean air regulators: Specifically recognize within the 111(d) Final Rulemaking the role that renewable thermal energy can play in avoiding production of megawatts generated by existing power plants—thus offsetting their carbon and other polluting emissions. GHPs should be specified among the most efficient renewable thermal energy technologies for accomplishing that goal.”
“Given the high proportion of energy and electricity used by buildings in the United States,” he continued, “GHPs offer a unique and efficient renewable energy technology for heating and cooling that provides both renewable energy and efficiency offsets that can help EPA and the states attain their carbon emission reduction targets.”
The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) has joined hundreds of association signatories to a letter sent by the Broad Tax Extenders Coalition to Congress, urging passage of “tax extenders bills” already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and under consideration by the U.S. Senate. The bills would reinstate and extend several tax incentives that expired last year, including important provisions for geothermal heat pumps (GHPs).
Section 179 expensing and 50% additional first-year depreciation (bonus depreciation) for a variety of “qualified property” expired on Dec. 31, 2013. Before that under Section 179, a business could tax expense up to $500,000 for the year a GHP was installed. And under bonus depreciation, a business could deduct 50% of the cost of a GHP in the first year of its installation.
Last July, the House passed HR 4718 to make permanent the first-year, 50% bonus depreciation for qualified property (including GHPs). Last April, the Senate Finance Committee passed by voice vote the “Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act,” which would extend a number of energy related tax breaks, including an extension of Section 179. GEO hopes the Senate will consider in December a proposed two-year extension through 2015 (retroactive to the expiration of the incentives at the end of 2013).
In signing the Broad Tax Extenders Coalition letter, GEO joined the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council and more than 500 other diverse associations representing aerospace, agriculture, auto, aviation, biomass, builders, business, chemicals, cities, commerce, concrete, energy, finance, homeowners, hospitality, housing, hot geothermal, lumber, manufacturers, metals, natural gas, petroleum, taxes, technology, telecom, vehicle dealers, and wind.
More than 500 attendees enjoyed the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) 2014 Technical Conference & Expo at the Balti-more Convention Center and Hilton Hotel in Baltimore, MD on October 15-16. Besides training courses, this year’s conference tracks included Utility, Commercial/ Institutional, Marketing, Technical Innovations, a DOE Panel Discussion, and Industry Association Updates. The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) sponsored an exhibit and convened a Public Policy Workshop at the event, and Board Members Steve Smith (Enertech), Phil Schoen (Geo-Enterprises) and Keith Swilley (Gulf Power) participated in session tracks.
Following an Organizational Design Summit last May that involved a number of key member/stakeholders, IGSHPA adopted a reorganization plan for the association dubbed “IGSHPA 2.0.” A Board of Directors with oversight of IGSHPA will replace the association’s Advisory Committee, and new leadership well steer a variety of committees. According to GEO President Doug Dougherty, “We believe that adoption of IGSHPA 2.0 is a move in the right direction for the organization, and if executed properly will significantly improve its training, outreach and financial position.” For more information about IGSHPA 2.0, visit the association website, here.
Special to GEO, by Scott Emery, Maevelle Energy
Will future winds put the geoexchange industry in irons, running or somewhere in between? You can’t come to the Chesapeake region without thinking about sailing. And if you have ever spent a day sailing the Chesapeake Bay, you know that the direction the wind blows can make or break your day.
At the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) in Baltimore during mid-October, attendees spent their time contemplating how future winds will influence the geoexchange industry. The predictions of meteoric growth from past events were gone, and in their place were frank presentations and discussions on the policy, financial and technical issues that will shape the future of geoexchange. IGSHPA 2014 had the distinct feel of being a gathering of people serious about the industry and willing to do the hard work necessary to make geoexchange a mainstream technology.
Geoexchange is often cited as the most efficient space heating and cooling technology available, but it has achieved only a modest share of the U.S. heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) market. Six years after federal tax incentives for geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) were put in place, the question remains, “What will it take for geoexchange to become a mainstream HVAC solution?” IGSHPA 2014 offered insight into four issues that will shape the industry’s future: