GEO 2013 – The Year in Review
The Geothermal Exchange Organization’s (GEO) efforts to grow the geothermal heat pump industry continued its focus on both federal and state issues.
Extension of Federal Tax Credits for GHPs
In comments filed on April 15, the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) formally asked the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee to recommend extending federal tax credits for residential and commercial geothermal heat pump (GHP) installations (IRS Code sections 25D and 48[a]) beyond their Dec. 31, 2016 expiration date through the year 2020. For a complete copy of the GEO’s Geothermal Heat Pump Tax Credit Comments to Congress, click here.
Advocacy for Geothermal Legislation
Bonus Depreciation Extension
Owing to efforts by GEO, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) and other allies, Congress extended federal bonus depreciation for commercial GHP installations through the end of 2013 in its tax bill to prevent the nation from going over a “fiscal cliff.”
Other Pro-Geothermal Bills
GEO also supported other bills that promoted the interests of the GHP industry—including GHP tax rebate extensions and promotion of geothermal research and development—but that legislation was set aside as Congress wrestled with other issues.
Pushing for Clean Energy Recognition
Inclusion of GHPs Under Federal Clean Energy Requirements
Bonneville Power Administration Rebates
GSA Green Buildings Certifications
Support of Farm Bill Energy Title
Building on comments issued last year, GEO joined a coalition of 138 organizations led by the Agriculture Energy Coalition, “25×25,” and the Environmental Law & Policy Center in sending a letter urging Congressional conferees to support Farm Bill Energy Title programs for five more years, and to reauthorize $900 million in mandatory funding for programs supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency.
GEO Support of State Initiatives
State and local geothermal and allied associations worked hard during 2013 to advance and promote GHP adoption, including legislative efforts to recognize and include thermal technologies for renewable energy credits in Maine and Connecticut; a successful effort in Wisconsin to spare GHPs from incentive caps; and a bill passed in Long Island that will sponsor a comprehensive study about how GHPs can raise energy efficiency and lower costs. GEO was directly involved with legislative and regulatory issues affecting GHPs in Illinois, and provided direct support of initiatives in California, Colorado, and Massachusetts.
California GEO supported efforts by CaliforniaGeo to pass AB 2339 in 2012, which mandates a study of GHP efficiency and other benefits to California and how promotion of GHPS can be integrated into state energy policy. GEO supports continuing efforts to integrate GHPs into renewable energy and efficiency programs, outlined in comments to the California Energy Commission seeking to greater importance for GHPs in its Draft Guidelines for School Energy Projects (Prop 39). GEO also supports current efforts to modify state drilling codes to more realistically address geothermal boreholes.
Reviving GHP Data Collection
Since 2009, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has failed to collect information about the GHP industry because of budget cuts. GEO met with EIA officials to begin crafting a method to restart that important data collection. EIA has asked GEO to serve as a trusted third party designee to potentially help collect GHP industry data for them.
Sponsorship of GHP Industry Research
GEO contracted with a renowned research team to study efficiency performance of GHP and a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems at the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers Headquarters Building in Atlanta, GA. Objectives are to compare the performance of the two heating and cooling systems, and to explain reasons for differences with academic rigor and scientific integrity. The research team includes Dr. J.D. Spitler, Regents Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Oklahoma State University, and Dr. Xiaobing Liu, Staff Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
National Standard for GHP Personnel
In a project managed by GEO, the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association and Oak Ridge National Laboratory working under a U.S. Department of Energy contract completed its National Certification Standard for Ground Source Heat Pump Personnel. The standard itemizes qualifications for each task undertaken in the design, installation, commissioning, operation and maintenance of a GHP system.
Regional and National GHP Education
AGWT Geothermal Forum Workshops
Work with Allied Organizations
Forging new relationships during the year, GEO staff attended the National Association of Regulated Utility Commissioners (NARUC) 2013 Annual Meeting, the NGWA Expo ‘13, and the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association 2013 Conference & Expo. GEO staff also joined NGWA in a meeting with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to discuss ways to effectively work together to promote expanded use of GHPs in rural electric service areas across the country.
New Initiatives with IGSHPA
In late November, GEO met with officials of Oklahoma State University and the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) in Stillwater, OK. The group agreed on the need for GEO and IGSHPA to work together toward a strong partnership to represent the industry. IGSHPA is taking steps to transform its management that will include GEO on its Board of Directors and Strategic Planning Committee, plus planning for upcoming IGSHPA Conferences & Expos. The two organizations will also seek joint research opportunities.