GEO Washington Update

In early February, Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) President and CEO Doug Dougherty joined the association’s advocacy team for several important meetings in Washington, DC. First among the issues was On Bill Financing (OBF). At the end of 2011, an amendment signed into law mandated a federal pilot program encouraging electric utilities to offer OBF to small businesses for geothermal loop installations. Dougherty met with the program administrator at the Economic Development Administration, offering GEO assistance in crafting the new project. Follow-up meetings on the issue were held with staff of the White House Council for Environmental Quality and Domestic Policy Council.

Staff from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) attended the Domestic Policy Council meeting on OBF, leading to discussions about another 2011 legislative mandate that requires DOE to produce a strategic plan for increasing adoption of geo-thermal heat pumps (GHPs)—including new ways to promote them within the federal government. Several meetings with congressional staff followed, centered on inclusion of GHPs in Senate Clean Energy Standard legislation.

Finally, the GEO team met with staff at the Washington, DC office of the State of Maryland to discuss that state’s precedent-setting effort to include GHPs in their Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (article, next page). GEO also met with senior staff at the National Governors’ Association to discuss the Maryland REPS initiative in light of the majority of states’ failure to include GHPs in their Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards. GEO continues to urge public policy officials at the federal and state levels to recognize the economic and environmental benefits of GHPs.