McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - April Baumgarten The Dickinson Press, N.D.
Geothermal energy caught on fire last year in North Dakota, increasing installations by 26 percent from 2010, officials said Friday.
"Obviously most of them are concentrated around the larger cities, but we've seen permit application for installation all over the state," said Lorraine Manz, a North Dakota Geological Survey geologist.
North Dakota jumped from 897 installations in 2010 to 1,135 last year. Dickinson has a total of 17, which is up about 24 percent.
A geothermal heating and cooling system moves heat through a network of pipes, which are installed approximately 200 feet into the ground. Fluid circulates through the pipes, moving heat into the ground to cool off buildings and warm air from the ground to heat them.
Dickinson has 12 commercial installations, including in the Dickinson Public Library and the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport.
"They are very good at keeping our costs low," airport manager Matthew Remynse said. "We haven't seen a very large (price) increase on our terminal after we put the expansion on, and I think that is due in large part to we have used geothermals to help our costs stay low."
Four additional installations were put in the expansion to the terminal last year, Remynse said. The airport has 10 installations.
Using geothermal systems are less expensive to operate and are eco-friendly.
"Once you get down a few feet below the surface, the temperature down there remains pretty much constant all year round," Manz said. "Essentially what you have is an unlimited source of energy, and it is available everywhere."
Dale Burwick is one of 15 Dickinson residents that has a geothermal system in his home. He said there is no comparison, and he would recommend it to others.
"The system is phenomenal," he said. "The home to me seems a lot more stable as far as keeping a temperature constant. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Manz said these numbers are reflective of the national trend, and it could mean more systems are on the way.
"It is a long-term investment," she said. "I have one of these systems in my house and I absolutely love it. It is one of the best investments we have ever made."
Manz said the federal government has a 30 percent tax break on the systems, and North Dakota has a 15 percent tax break. For more information, visit http://www.dsireusa.org.