GEO Speaks at IGSHPA

DSCF3721Editor’s Note – The following is an edited version of a Keynote Address by Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) Chairman Steve Smith (Enertech Global) on Oct. 7 at the Opening Session of the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) 2015 Conference & Expo in Kansas City, MO.

What I bring to you today is a message of strength and unity. As you all know, we have 30% residential and a 10% commercial income tax credits that will expire at the end of 2016. That is the issue that we are really focused on right now.

            Just when the tax credits came into being late-2008, we went into the Great Recession. And with that, I think everybody agrees that the tax credits were really a savior for us. As we saw new construction drop off, both residential and commercial, we saw an uptick in the retrofit market that flipped to 75% of our sales in a couple a years.

            I lay a lot of that on the tax credit, which got a lot of people thinking about geothermal when energy costs were higher than today. But at the end 2016, the tax credits for geothermal heat pump installations will expire under current law. The tax credits were a great tool to keep our industry alive during the recession, but they never really had a chance to help build our market share. New construction is on its way up, but it’s not where we saw it in the early 2000s. So, we’re looking for an extension of the tax credit to accomplish its original goal over the next four years.

            GEO has been working on the issue very hard in DC and the states to get that tax credit extend-ed. We recently had a Fly-In to Washington, which included 18 visits on the Hill with key members of the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

            It was a good group of visits, and we got a good reception in favor of our requests. But the tricky part is getting our tax credits into the right bill to carry them through, and getting it passed through all of the friction and static on the Hill.

            We ask for your help. We need “all hands on deck” with strong unity. When we walk into those House, Senate and committee meetings, we need a long list of industry members in their districts and in their states. To accomplish that, we will be working hard with IGSHPA, and with the National Ground Water Association. GEO will tie this together to show the power we have as a strong lobby with a real voice. We need that voice to be as loud as the solar industry’s voice, and louder than the voices of the fossil fuel industries.

            All of you are our voice—it can’t just be the voice of GEO members. To succeed, we need to include all the members of IGSHPA and NGWA. It has to be all of you. None of us can afford to wait for somebody else to move our goals forward. We all have to work together to be heard.

            So stay strong in your support of IGSHPA and NGWA, and work with GEO—cohesively as a group—as we plead our case to the 39 House members and 23 Senators that hold the keys to the Ways & Means and the Finance committees.

            We need you and your companies to give force to our efforts. When we walk into the offices of our elected officials, we want to point to a long list and say, “Here are your constituents involved in geo-thermal heating and cooling, from installers, drillers, engineers, architects, suppliers, to manufacturers—everyone in the industry.”

            Please contact GEO staff and our Board Members to answer your questions and to learn more about how you can help. But most of all, we need you on our list of supporters as we proceed with our grassroots campaign to extend the tax credits as our economy hopefully improves in the years ahead. The bottom line is that we need to work together if we are to be strong.