Geo Prominent in Oklahoma First Energy Plan

Issued by Gov. Mary Fallin in late-2011, the Oklahoma First Energy Plan sets forth enlightened goals to meet the challenges we all face for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallina better energy future. “We are at the beginning of an energy revolution that will fundamentally change the way we produce and use energy,” says the document’s Executive Summary.

“New markets will develop as capital flows to the most efficient uses, and consumers, opting for maximum utility and value, will vote with their purchases.” Geothermal heat pumps are quite prominently featured by the Energy Plan, as shown below by International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) Distance Learning Coordinator Gerald McClain’s recent analysis of the document.

Page 8 Promote the large-scale build out of residential and commercial geothermal systems to preclude the need for new power generation where practical.

Page 15 Oklahoma is also the nation’s leading geothermal, or ground source, heat pump state with its expertise in drilling, equipment manufacturing, and system engineering and design. Although relatively small when compared to Oklahoma’s other renewable sources on a capacity basis, the geothermal industry in Oklahoma employs more than 4,200 Oklahomans and boasts annual revenues in excess of $550 million per year.

Page 17 More than 70% of the energy consumed by a typical single-family home is used to meet thermal loads. Geothermal heat pumps are 20% to 40% more efficient than available air conditioners and 50% to 70% more efficient than available heating systems. Large-scale installations of geothermal units would lower peak demand from electric power plants and postpone or eliminate the need for new power generation. In the Oklahoma residential sector alone, large-scale application could realistically result in a summer peak reduction of 375 MWs to 550 MWs. Reducing peak load and avoiding the need for new generation reduces costs, lowers emissions, enhances reliability, and lowers ratepayer monthly bills.

Page 17 Geothermal systems require high up-front capital investment.

Page 17 Consumers and policy makers require education regarding geothermal system benefits. The average time a typical resident stays in a given home is far less than the life of a geothermal system, which deters homeowners from making long-term investments, even if those investments have very favorable life-cycle costing.

Page 18 Promote the large-scale build out of residential and commercial geothermal systems to preclude the need for new power generation where practical.

Page 18 Recommendations:

  • Encourage continued federal, state, and utility provider incentives, where appropriate, for the installation of geothermal heat pumps when economically practical, being careful to provide a level playing field and avoid unintended consequences of picking winners and losers.
  • Support utility provider proposals to finance geothermal heat loops and allow cost recovery and a reasonable rate of return on investment.

Page 25 Geothermal heat pumps are up to 60% more efficient than standard HVAC units. For example, if, in a 1,750-square-foot home, a 25-year-old electric furnace was replaced with a geothermal heat pump, the difference in monthly electric bills would pay for the unit in approximately six years (after applying tax credits), and the geothermal heat pump could heat and cool a home for about $1 a day.

To review the complete Oklahoma First Energy Plan, click here.