Geothermal Bill Introduced in Minnesota House

Minnesota HouseRep. John Benson (DFL – District 44B) introduced HF 1079 in the Minnesota House of Representatives, a bill that would allow geothermal heating and cooling systems “to apply to a utility’s renewable energy obligation under certain conditions.” If passed, the bill would amend Minnesota’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to include geothermal heat pumps as a compliance measure for utilities operating in the state to meet their renewable energy purchase requirements. The effective date of the bill’s provisions would be the day following its enactment.

The legislation stipulates that, “The net reduction in electrical consumption resulting from the replacement or displacement of space or water heating systems and space cooling systems fueled by electricity, after accounting for the electrical consumption by the geothermal heating and cooling system itself, may be counted toward a utility’s standard obligation under this section, provided that the utility provides financial assistance to the owner of the geothermal heating and cooling system in an amount that reduces the purchase and installation cost by at least … percent.”

The percentage is intentionally left to the Commissioner of Commerce, who “shall determine how to calculate the net reduction in electrical consumption resulting from the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system that a utility may apply toward its standard obligation….” The bill defines a “geothermal heating and cooling system” as one that:

  • Exchanges thermal energy from groundwater or a shallow ground source to generate thermal energy through a geothermal heat pump or a system of geothermal heat pumps interconnected with any geothermal extraction facility that is an open loop system in which ground or surface water is circulated in an environmentally safe manner directly into the geothermal extraction facility and is returned to the same aquifer or surface water source; or transported to a water treatment plant prior to distribution through a municipal water system;
  • Meets or exceeds federal Energy Star product specification standards;
  • Is manufactured, installed, and operated in accordance with applicable government and industry standards; and
  • Does not transmit electricity to the electrical grid.