GEO Lauds New Hampshire Thermal Energy Law for GHPs

The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) lauds New Hampshire’s recently passed law (SB 218) that allows thermal renewable energy sources to be used by electric utilities to meet energy purchase requirements under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The New Hampshire RPS requires power providers to source 23.8% of their electricity from renewable resources like wind, solar and biomass by 2025.

The New Hampshire law says renewable thermal energy from biomass, solar and geothermal heat pumps qualify for incentives under the state’s RPS mandate. It offers Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to biomass, solar and geothermal project developers that are equivalent in value to those offered for renewable electricity power projects. The RECs will be worth up to $29 per megawatt-hour of thermal energy produced.

“The geothermal heat pump industry congratulates the New Hampshire legislature and Gov. John Lynch for their understanding and foresight in recognizing the great contributions that can be made by thermal renewable energy sources toward meeting the state’s environmental and economic goals,” said GEO President Doug Dougherty. GEO Member and New England Geothermal Professionals Association (NEGPA) President Martin Orio (Water Energy – Hampstead, NH) was instrumental in garnering support for the bill by geothermal heat pump companies across the region. “Though the legislation was aimed primarily at biomass,” he said, “we saw it as a big win for our industry as well.”

The New Hampshire thermal energy program will be available to residential, commercial and industrial projects. Qualified projects can use revenue generated from the sale of RECs that they earn to finance capital costs, helping to reduce payback time on investment. Thermal projects will qualify for the new REC incentives after Jan. 1, 2013. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission will forge an administrative rulemaking to implement the law (see this NEGPA announcment).

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) developed the concept and led efforts with the legislature, Governor’s Office and the state Public Utilities Commission to pass the new law. “Thermal energy represents over a third of all energy consumed in America. Now is the time for other states to consider New Hampshire’s leadership,” said BTEC Executive Director Joseph Seymour. “Energy policy that only focuses on electricity or transportation fuels ignores the tremendous economic and environmental benefits of displacing our dependence on fossil heating fuels with renewable energy.”

According to BTEC, “Eight states have limited thermal provisions in their RPS programs, but they are generally narrowly restricted.” Maryland passed a landmark thermal energy bill for geothermal and other thermal sources into law last May. Other states—notably Massachusetts and Vermont are considering expanding their RPS programs to include thermal renewable energy sources.

“Maryland and now New Hampshire recognize the importance of thermal renewable energy to achieving the goals set forth by their RPS laws,” said Dougherty. “With this momentum, GEO actively urges other states to consider and pass such landmark measures across the nation.”