WASHINGTON — The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) stands behind New Hampshire’s newly approved law, S.B. 213, which adds thermal renewable energy sources to compliance measures that electric utilities can deploy to meet the requirements of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

Signed into law at the end of June, New Hampshire’s new legislation allows renewable thermal energy — such as that offered by geothermal heat pumps — to qualify for its RPS program at least through 2025. It will offer Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to geothermal, biomass and solar, and project developers that are equivalent in value to those given for renewable electricity projects. The RECs will be worth up to $29 per MW/h of useful thermal energy produced.

“The geothermal heat pump industry congratulates the New Hampshire legislature and Governor John Lynch for their understanding and foresight in recognizing the great contributions that can be made by thermal renewable energy sources in meeting the state’s environmental and economic goals,” said Doug Dougherty, president, GEO.

Martin Orio, president, Northeast Geothermal Professionals, Hampstead, N.H., assisted the bill’s approval by garnering interest and input from geothermal heat pump companies across the region.

“Though the legislation was aimed at the biomass industry, we saw its thermal energy credit as a big win for geothermal heat pumps as a renewable and an energy efficiency product,” said Orio.

The New Hampshire thermal energy program will be available to residential, commercial, and industrial projects. Qualified projects can use revenue generated from the sale of the RECs that they earn to finance capital costs, helping to cut payback time on investment. The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) developed the concept and led efforts in support of the new law with the legislature, governor’s office, and the state public utilities commission. “Now is the time for other states to consider New Hampshire’s leadership. Thermal energy represents over one third of all energy consumed in America,” said Joseph Seymour, executive director, BTEC. “Energy policy that only focuses on electricity or transportation fuels ignores the tremendous economic and environmental benefits of displacing our dependence on fossil heating fuels with renewable energy.” According to BTEC, Arizona, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin have limited thermal provisions in their RPS programs.

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission will now forge administrative rulemaking to implement the law. Thermal projects will not qualify for the new REC incentives until after Jan. 1, 2013.

“Maryland, and now New Hampshire, recognizes the importance of thermal renewable energy to achieving the goals set forth by their RPS laws,” said Dougherty. “With this momentum, GEO actively urges other states to consider and pass such landmark measures into law across the nation.”

Publication date: 7/30/2012