INDIANAPOLIS — “We aren’t green, we’re gold.” That was the message being sent from speakers and trainers at the 2012 International Ground Source Heat Pump Association’s (IGSHPA’s) technical conference and expo. This year marked the 25th anniversary of the conference as well as the association. In opening remarks, Jack Henrich, IGSHPA advisory council chair, boasted that IGSHPA was a family with great potential. 

“What we do is create jobs and provide energy security,” he explained. “Geothermal is environmentally friendly, has permanent demand reduction, and allows for economic prosperity for the contractors involved.”

Life After Tax Credits

One item lending a helping hand to this prosperity is the current tax credits that provide for refunds for those who have geothermal units installed. Not set to expire until 2016, these tax credits have helped boost some contractors’ sales as well as increase market awareness of geothermal, according to convention speaker, Jay Hammond, GeoMaster LLC/GeoExcel. His session, “Life After 2016” addressed the profitability and environmental benefits that geothermal technology provides contractors and customers in light of the geothermal tax credits.

“I have been grateful for the tax credits, but we as an industry have to be sure that we have good quality installations that will stand the test of time,” he said. “With these tax credits, there has been increased competition, lowered margins, and in some cases lower standards. These are things we don’t want to get stuck in.”

Hammond went on to ask, “Why does geothermal need tax credits?” He proposed that the payback on geothermal doesn’t necessitate a tax credit, and that this could be used as a selling point before and after 2016.

“For wind and solar energy, the tax credits were necessary to justify the payback,” said Hammond. “For geothermal, that is not necessarily true.”

He warned against the increased market awareness creating over-inflated sales numbers and possibly an artificial market, but his primary concern centered on proper training to protect the image of geothermal systems. He challenged attendees to become involved with IGSHPA and its training.

“IGSHPA is the organization that is pushing for well-trained people,” said Hammond. “It is the leader in training, and we need more training.”

IGHSPA Happenings

The sessions and classes ranged on a broad variety of topics and allowed attendees to discuss policies and practices with other industry members as well as with professionals and officials in the geothermal heat pump industry.

Jim Bose, Ph.D., P.E., and executive director of IGSHPA, was one of the presenters, and he informed those at the conference about what was happening with the association. He encouraged industry members to communicate with IGSHPA about what is going on locally as well as about what is going on in the association.

“If you have any questions, ask somebody who knows the answer,” he said. “If we don’t do geothermal well, then somebody out there will do it for us.”

The association has spent the last year working on certification standards for installation personnel, has hired additional training staff, and has opened a new world headquarters and regional training center in Stillwater, Okla. It has also trained 929 installers that have both passed the tests and received North American Technician Excellence certification.

In the coming year, IGSHPA is looking to set new priorities and continue with previously established ones as well.

“We are looking at conducting studies about the economic effects of ground source heat pumps, among other studies,” said Bose. “We are also looking at forming a Canadian chapter.”

Expo Learning, Fun

Attendees not only participated in industry updates and class sessions, but there was also an exhibit hall that brought 82 exhibitors together to show the latest across many aspects of geothermal equipment and installations. Manufacturers such as Bosch, Carrier, and Jackson Systems spent time with those who stopped by their booths to see what items the companies offered for geothermal applications.

Throughout the conference, lunches and snacks were provided so that attendees could spend time networking and learning more about the geothermal businesses across the nation. Some attendees were students working on their certifications. They were able to take the tests necessary for certification during the convention.

At the end of the conference, attendees gathered to celebrate 25 years of IGSHPA with a special cake. The leaders of the association posed for photos and together cut the cake and IGSHPA sponsored a prize raffle afterwards. Ticket numbers were called and those present had a chance to spin the wheel and win t-shirts, a Kindle Fire, or an iPad.

Next year’s conference is scheduled to be held in Las Vegas on Oct. 9-10, 2013.

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Publication date: 12/3/2012