GEO Responds to 17-State Governors’ Clean Energy Accord

March 3 – The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) responded to a bipartisan group of governors from 17 states who pledged on Feb. 16 to accelerate efforts to boost renewable energy, build better electricity grids, and cut emissions after the U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan.

The “Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future” sets commitments to expand renewable energy and energy efficiency, and integrate solar and wind generation into electricity grids. New standards and benchmarks for energy efficiency and renewables will also be set. GEO sent letters to governors and their energy advisors in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

“As you work together on planning and policies to develop clean energy alternatives to create a better environment and a greener economy, GEO urges you to consider programs to promote geo-thermal heat pumps (GHPs),” said GEO President Doug Dougherty.

“Tapping the earth’s energy, GHPs reduce power consumption and eliminate fossil fuels onsite. GHPs cut pollution while helping to level utility demand loads. Best of all, this easily scalable technology is widely available and proven efficient in all states.

“GHPs are recognized by both the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the single most efficient heating and cooling technologies for buildings of all sizes and purposes. They offer a unique combination of both renewable energy and efficiency offsets that can help your state and the coalition achieve their emission reduction targets.

“According to DOE, buildings are the largest single sector of energy consumption, accounting for over 40% of national primary energy use in 2010. And 60% of the energy used in buildings is for “thermal loads,” including space heating, cooling and water heating. A third of that load—3.2 quadrillion BTUs—is satisfied with electricity.

              “EPA says that GHPs can reduce energy consumption—and corresponding emissions—up to 44% compared with conventional air-source heat pumps, and 72% compared with electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment. Recent advancements in GHP efficiencies only enhance the numbers noted by EPA.

“More importantly, says DOE, “The biggest benefit of GHPs is that they use 25% to 50% less electricity than conventional electric heating or cooling systems. This translates into a GHP using one unit of electricity to move three units of heat from the earth.”

 “GEO believes that the lowest cost—and least polluting—unit of energy is one that is not used. A typical 3-ton residential GHP can reduce summer peak electricity demand by ~ 2 kilowatts. Take that times 500 homes equipped with GHPs, and you have a peak power demand reduction of a megawatt.

“For electric utilities and the transmission grid, GHPs reduce summer peak demand and actually build load (and power sales) during the winter. In doing so, GHPs smooth out the power demand curve, saving utilities and ratepayers money while stabilizing the electrical system. Not only that, GHPs replace heating and cooling systems that rely on polluting natural gas, propane and fuel oil. Elimination of such onsite fossil fuel use can offer an important offset to power plant emissions.

“Thermal energy—not just generated electricity—must be part of any equation seeking answers to the total contributions of clean energy options. GEO asks that your state think beyond electricity production to the role that thermal energy savings can play in avoided energy use. That includes renewable thermal energy technologies like GHPs as a way to avoid power generation and therefore cut pollution.”

In conclusion, Dougherty said, “GEO hopes your state will strongly consider promoting new and/or expanded state and utility sponsored efforts to help homeowners and businesses install geothermal heating and cooling systems to reducing power plant emissions.” (GEO)