On Wednesday, June 11th, Governor Peter Shumlin signed S.202, a bill which enables Vermont to encourage the installation of high efficiency geothermal heat pumps. The governor noted that “While we’ve accomplished a lot, we still have a long way to go on helping Vermonters reduce their heating costs, which is why we are here today.” Public Service Commissioner Christopher Recchia said that technology has advanced and now Vermonters have new clean heating options, including geothermal/ ground source heat pumps. Recchia noted this legislation will allow the state to offer incentives for heat pumps the way it now does for efficient light bulbs or appliances. Jim Merriam, Director of Efficiency Vermont, noted that “Efficiency Vermont is always looking for new ways to help Vermont families and businesses reduce their energy costs.” Efficiency Vermont had requested this legislation.
Jim Ashley, Vermont representative of the New England Geothermal Professional Association (NEGPA), and Martin Orio, President of NEGPA were present at the bill signing. They were instrumental in encouraging the legislature to include geothermal heat pumps in the legislation. Governor Shumlin indicated his pleasure that NEGPA had assisted in the legislation and that they were present at the bill signing. Ashley noted that based on current scheduling, Efficiency Vermont will probably not actively work on the nature and size of the geothermal incentives until early fall. He expects that a stakeholder group will be formed to work with Efficiency Vermont on these incentives. The legislation provides that incentives be tied to a number of goals including heating load reductions in existing buildings through weatherization.
NEGPA has also been active in Vermont through participation in the annual Better Building by Design conference in February and through utility geothermal brown bag training sessions with Efficiency Vermont, Burlington Electric, and Vermont Electric Cooperative. NEGPA expects to participate in the Renewable Energy of Vermont (REV) annual conference this fall.
The bill signing took place at a Rutland home which is a model in energy efficiency with solar panels, weatherization and energy tracking technology, and two air source heat pumps to supplement the house’s heating system.