Geothermal heat pump (GHP) installations in Illinois got a boost recently by the state’s General Assembly, which just passed language sponsored by the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO). The legislation is intended to remove roadblocks to financing of geothermal projects in the state. SB 1603 was amended in the Illinois House of Representatives to included GEO language, and approval in the Senate followed May 30.
“The GEO language had to amend three separate existing statutes,” said GEO President and CEO Douglas A. Dougherty, “including the Illinois Finance Authority Act, the Illinois Power Agency Act and the Public Utilities Act (PUA).”
The new legislation would replace an earlier law that inadvertently prevented investor-owned utilities (IOUs) from including GHP power under Illinois’ Energy Efficient Portfolio Standard. The earlier law also stymied financing of GHP-powered buildings by the Illinois Finance Authority.
The new legislation clarifies the definition of “energy efficient” under state statute to include reduction in total BTU use to meet end use energy needs.
Gov. Pat Quinn had not signed the bill at press time, but was expected to sign it.
“The new definition will encompass GHPs for the first time in Illinois,” said Dougherty. “GHPs will be recognized as being an energy efficient technology, and IOUs will be able to promote them with financial reimbursement from a fund for such purposes under the state’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard. And the Illinois Finance Authority will be empowered to issue bonds for energy efficient projects that incorporate GHPs for heating and cooling.”
GEO describes itself as the voice of the geothermal heat pump industry in the United States. It aims to promote the manufacture, design and installation of GHPs across the country. For more information, visit www.geoexchange.org.