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During an interview with Renewable Energy World in March, US Geothermal Energy Organization (GEO) President and CEO Doug Dougherty said new measures were being introduced in New York State, Illinois and other US states that will support increased adoption of geothermal heat pumps.

He said utilities and regulators are recognizing that geothermal heat pumps can reduce on-peak kilowatt demand both in summer and in winter. New York GEO is promoting a Central Hudson Gas and Electric proposal for an “earning adjustment mechanism” to help them pay for electric vehicle and heat pump incentives. It is also supporting a National Grid proposal, the “Electric Heat Initiative,” which includes geothermal heat pumps. Both initiatives are meant to help meet environmental goals.

The association is also reviewing a Request for Information recently issued by Consolidated Edison seeking ideas for reducing winter peak gas demand in New York City, which has mostly banned new gas lines. ConEd is considering various non-fossil fuel heating technologies, including geothermal heat pumps.

About one third of electric service providers in the USA avoid the need to keep adding costly gas-powered peaker plants and instead offer low-cost on-bill financing that spreads the upfront cost of geothermal systems (and sometimes solar equipment) across monthly payments that are less than the cost of the energy they save on heating and cooling. In other places geothermal owners are offered lower rates. Sometimes a utility installs the expensive ground loop, then charges a low monthly fee for it.

Many of these ideas are also being considered by governments, regulators and utilities in Canada, according to the HRAI’s Martin Luymes. “It’s early days, but there are interesting discussions going on.” The HRAI will provide updates on these developments as they become available.