WASHINGTON — The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) presented four of its 2011 Geothermal Heat Pump Industry Champion Awards to key legislators in Washington, D.C. Recipients included Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.).

“Recipients of GEO’s 2011 Champion Award understand the potential of our industry and share our commitment to the technology,” said Doug Dougherty, GEO president and CEO. “They are leaders when it comes to promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, and we are proud of their efforts to help grow our industry and in the process create new U.S. jobs.”

GEO said that Sanders was honored for his consistent support of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs). After hearing testimony on the technology’s benefits by Dougherty and board member Phil Schoen (Geo-Enterprises, Tulsa, Okla.), Sanders embraced the concept of utility on-bill financing for GHP ground loops to reduce upfront cost.

The organization said Tester offered a successful amendment in 2011 that directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a strategic plan outlining steps the agency will take to drive down GHP installed cost and promote the industry. Tester also authored the Geothermal Exploration and Technology Act, which authorizes a new research program to address high installation costs for GHPs.

The association noted that Cole has seen first-hand the economic benefits of the GHP industry, especially considering the number of Oklahomans employed by the industry. His recognition of the economic benefits of GHPs helped drive legislative language in 2011 that directs the DOE to develop a strategic plan by mid-June 2012 for expanding GHP market share.

Frelinghuysen has a long-standing appreciation of the environmental and economic benefits of GHPs, said GEO. He was instrumental in restoring funding for DOE’s Energy Information Agency, which will enable it to collect, analyze, and report on data that will help characterize the state of the GHP industry.

Publication date: 03/19/2012