Michigan Bill Includes Geothermal Heat Pumps as Renewable Energy

Michigan sealState Rep. Aric Nesbitt (R-66th District) introduced Michigan House Bill No. 5980, which will amend the state’s Renewable Energy Standard— Michigan 2008 PA 295, the “Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act.”

Michigan enacted Public Act 295 in October 2008, requiring the state’s investor-owned utilities, alternative retail suppliers, electric cooperatives and municipal electric utilities to generate 10% of their retail electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2015. In addition to renewables, the standard allows utilities to use energy optimization (energy efficiency) and advanced cleaner energy systems to meet a limited portion of the requirement.

HB 5980 includes geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) as part of its expanded definition of “Renewable Energy,” making them available for utility Renewable Energy Credits:

  • An energy source, “that naturally replenishes over a human, not a geological, time frame and that is ultimately derived from solar power, water power, or wind power. Renewable energy resource does not include petroleum, nuclear, natural gas, or coal. A renewable energy resource comes from the sun or from thermal inertia of the earth and minimizes the output of toxic material in the conversion of the energy….” Among other sources such as biomass, solar and wind energy, the new definition of renewable energy includes: “Thermal energy produced by a geothermal heat pump.”

The measure’s definition of “Energy Efficiency” calls it a means to reduce customer energy use through “installation of measures” and “changes in energy usage behavior”:

  • “A decrease in customer consumption of electricity or natural gas achieved through measures or programs that target customer behavior, equipment, devices, or materials without reducing the quality of energy services.”
  • “A decrease in the total amount of electricity or non-natural gas [e.g. propane and fuel oil – Editor] consumed for an end use or end uses achieved through measures such as geothermal, including ground source, reclaimed water, or groundwater.”

Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Director of Energy Efficiency Programs Art Thayer was instrumental in promoting HB 5980 in the State House. “Art worked hard to make sure that legislative language offered by GEO that specifies GHPs got into the bill,” said Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) President Doug Dougherty. “Introduction of HB 5980 is a big step toward gaining utility involvement in the promotion and installation of GHPs, and expanding our markets in Michigan.”