New California Geo Organization Seeks Legislation Promoting GHPs

californiaCalifornia Geo is the working title of an organization that has hit the ground running in the Golden State. “A state geothermal heat pump organization like ours has been sorely needed for quite a long time,” said Phil Henry (Geoexchange Solutions, Inc.), who has spearheaded the effort.

The group convened an organizing meeting on Jan. 31, to review legislative language in the Geothermal Heat Pump Deployment Act of 2012, which the group hopes to introduce in the California General Assembly in February. The revenue-neutral measure would seek recognition of geothermal heat pumps as a renewable energy resource that should be included in energy efficiency policies and direct the California Energy Commission (CEC) to investigate and report back to the Legislature within 180 days of enactment on the value of GHPs in helping to:

  • Reduce the total energy consumed in heating and cooling California homes and businesses;
  • Reduce the energy consumed in heating water;
  • Achieve California’s low carbon goals; and
  • Achieve California’s goals for net zero homes and businesses.

The mandated investigation will also examine streamlining oversight of GHP installations, centralize permitting and develop consistent guidelines. The legislation also mandates accommodation of GHPs into Title 24 standards and all implementation measures, including energy evaluation software and CalGreen training. Also sought are ways to make well bore completion information a publicly available database.

The proposed legislation asks the CEC to consider designating GHPs as a renewable energy technology, and allow GHPs to qualify as an energy source under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard for electric power providers. In addition, the bill instructs the CEC and the California Public Utilities Commission to cooperatively “develop rate structure recommendations that treat Geothermal Heat Pumps equitably and eliminate current rate disincentives for Geothermal Heat Pumps, considering the total energy value that Geothermal Heat Pumps provide to the consumer, the load serving utility, the environment, and the economy.”

Finally, the bill instructs the CEC to provide recommendations to the General Assembly regarding possible state tax incentives for GHPs “consistent with their value, taking into account similar types of tax incentives the state has provided other green energy technologies.”

California Geo organizers unanimously agreed to form and support a state geothermal heat pump association, and to support and fund a lobbying coalition to support its legislation. In pursuit of that goal, GeoExchange Solutions, Inc. has engaged Ecoconsult in a one-year lobbying services contract. Active solicitation of donations has begun to cover the contract cost.

According to Henry, a California market study called Project Negatherm delineated several structural, regulatory and administrative reforms that would benefit the market reach of GHPs in California. “We have a great story to tell,” he said. We must educate consumers, regulators, legislators and others about the benefits of geothermal heat pumps, overcome barriers to acceptance, and integrate them into the mainstream of California policies for energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

“We anticipate California Geo filing as a separate 501c3 non-profit that will register, together with nine other supporting entities, as a Lobby Coalition with the California Secretary of State,” Henry explained. “California Geo’s mission will be to build awareness of geoexchange technology and to build support for greatly increased implementation throughout the state across all climate zones.” A copy of California Geo’s draft legislation is available here. For more information and to help support the organization, contact Phil Henry.