Creating New Opportunities
By Tom Huntington, GEO Chairman of the Board
January is traditionally a month for review and goal setting. It was a busy year for the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) as we safeguarded the benefits we’ve won and sought new avenues of opportunity for the industry.
GEO was delighted that Congress and the Whitehouse extended bonus depreciation incentives for commercial geothermal heat pump (GHP) installations early in 2013. Taxes remain a buzzword in Washington as Congress seeks reform. Federal tax credits for GHP installations are set to expire on Dec. 31, 2016, but there is some worry across the industry that Congress may end them earlier as a cost-cutting measure.
The good news is that there is no evidence of this occurring! GEO sent its initial comments on the issue to the House Ways and Means Committee last April, boldly asking for an extension through 2020 of the “25D” and “48[a]” credits for residential and commercial GHP installations. To our delight, committee staffers responded with, “What would you like to see after 2020?”
Our Washington, DC advocacy team is monitoring that situation carefully and staying in constant touch with friends among the staffs of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. And GEO sent its request to the Senate Finance Committee this month to extend tax rebates to 2020.
With GEO President and CEO Doug Dougherty, our advocates are taking every opportunity to promote GHPs to legislators and agency staff in Washington, and to secure legislative opportunities for our technology. That includes offering thermal renewables technologies like GHPs as a compliance option for federal electricity purchase requirements, and support for consumer renewable and efficiency programs under the Energy Title of the national Farm Bill.
Recognition of the renewable and clean energy potential of our technology is growing, and we will continue to work with a growing number of state GHP associations to ensure that outcome in Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards across the country. GEO is fighting the good fight in other arenas as well, including state and local issues of water well vs. geothermal borehole regulation.
We haven’t forgotten GEO’s other charter tasks, including research, outreach, and partnering with allied organizations for the benefit of the industry. For example, with the help of top-notch researchers at Oklahoma State University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, we are studying the efficiency of commercial GHPs compared to variable refrigerant flow technology.
Last fall, we completed a 3-year project with Oak Ridge and the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) that developed standards for GHP personnel nationwide. And we are now engaged in discussions with the U.S. Energy Information Administration to encourage renewed GHP industry data collection with our assistance.
GEO is forging enduring and positive relationships with our natural allies to promote GHPs, including the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and the National Association of Regulated Utility Commissioners (NARUC). And we’ve opened dialogue with IGSHPA to help them meet new challenges for training and research as the industry forges ahead with new initiatives.
It is GEO’s purpose to create new opportunities for growth of the GHP industry. We know the barriers and challenges all too well. Our aim is to develop new, adaptive solutions that trump those old limitations. GEO will continue working toward that goal in 2014 and beyond to promote and expand GHP adoption nationwide. And by the way, the rest of the world is carefully watching us!