WASHINGTON — In early March 2012, 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 Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Representative Tom Cole (R-Okla.), and Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.). GEO Member Centennial Plastics, Hastings, Neb., co-sponsored and prepared the awards, which featured the company’s product.
"Recipients of GEO's 2011 Champion Award understand the potential of our industry and share our commitment to the technology," said GEO President and CEO Doug Dougherty. "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."
Senator Bernie Sanders was honored by GEO for his earnest and consistent support of geothermal heat pumps. After hearing testimony on the technology's benefits by Dougherty and GEO Board Member Phil Schoen of Geo-Enterprises, Tulsa, Okla., Sanders embraced the concept of utility on-bill financing for GHP ground loops to reduce upfront cost.
Senator Jon Tester offered a successful amendment in 2011 that directs 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.
Representative Tom 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 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a strategic plan by mid-June 2012 for expanding GHP market share.
Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen has a long-standing appreciation of the environmental and economic benefits of GHPs. He was instrumental in restoring funding at DOE's Energy Information Agency, which will enable them to collect, analyze and report on essential data that will help characterize the state of the GHP industry.