WASHINGTON — The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) board of directors voted unanimously to present Southern Co./Gulf Power Co. with its Utility Excellence award, recognizing outstanding promotion of geothermal heat pumps by an electric service provider to its customers as an efficient, renewable-energy end-use alternative.

“GEO appreciates Gulf Power/Southern Company’s steadfast support of the geothermal heat pump [GHP] industry and our association,” said Tom Huntington, chairman, GEO, and CEO, WaterFurnace. “Utility promotion of GHPs as an integral part of their demand-side management is a key to the GHP industry’s future.”

With a service territory covering approximately 430,000 customers in the northwest Florida Panhandle, Gulf Power is an integral part of Southern Co. With subsidiaries Alabama Power, Mississippi Power, and Georgia Power, Southern Co. serves more than 4 million customers.

Gulf Power and the Southern Co. have been long-term and consistent supporters of geothermal heat pump installations, recognizing the technology’s many benefits for consumers, especially energy cost savings.

“Promoting geothermal heat pumps is one of our demand-side management programs,” said Stan Connally, president and CEO, Gulf Power.

“With geothermal, our customers can cut heating and cooling costs in half,” said Keith Swilley, marketing manager, Gulf Power, and seven-year GEO board member.

Swilley noted that geothermal heat pumps provide more comfortable, constant temperatures, and have fewer mechanical components, meaning little noise or need for repairs.

“Closed loop heat exchange systems are underground and are protected from harsh weather,” he said. “That makes a big difference in the salty sea air environment of the Florida Panhandle, which causes serious rust problems with conventional above ground air-to-air HVAC systems.

“Through its promotions and support of GHPs over the past 18 years, Gulf Power has successfully promoted the installation of nearly 3,000 residential geothermal heat pump systems, and almost 9,000 tons of capacity in commercial buildings. Commercial geothermal installations include schools, office buildings, restaurants, hotels, condominiums, and county buildings, including a prison,” he said. “And Gulf Power has geothermal HVAC at four of its own office buildings, with another soon to begin construction.”

Publication date: 12/17/2012