‘Homegrown’ geothermal energy equals environmental protection, jobs

‘Homegrown’ geothermal energy equals environmental protection, jobs

America is already a world leader in the implementation of efficient and clean, renewable energy. Government stewardship has been crucial to helping nascent clean energy industries gain a toehold in markets dominated by fossil fuels. The Technologies for Energy Security Act of 2017 (H.R. 1090), would extend tax credits for geothermal heat pumps, fuel cells, microturbines, small wind, and combined heat and power that expired Jan. 1. Offered by U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, the bill already has more than 80 cosponsors, including 50 Republicans.  

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. — On June 1, President Donald Trump followed through on his campaign promise to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, an international agreement struck last year for long-term, worldwide actions to cut carbon emissions and reduce the threat of climate change.

Geothermal installation in mechanical room. Photo credit: Enertech

Calling out the agreement’s economic unfairness to the country, he exclaimed: “The United States, under the Trump administration, will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth…. We will be environmentally friendly, but we’re not going to put our businesses out of work and we’re not going to lose our jobs.”

Fortunately, America is already a world leader in the implementation of efficient and clean, renewable energy, which must remain as a cornerstone of the administration’s developing environmental policy. Government stewardship has been crucial to helping nascent clean energy industries gain a toehold in markets dominated by fossil fuels — from power transmission and transportation to the heating and cooling of buildings.

Our nation’s efforts to transform energy markets cannot afford to stumble at this critical stage of development. That’s why scores of legislators are standing up for bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that will continue to provide real and direct tax relief to individual and business consumers as it promotes clean energy technology adoption and retains tens of thousands of jobs right here in America.

Extending geothermal tax credits

The Technologies for Energy Security Act of 2017 (H.R. 1090), offered by Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) would correct a congressional oversight in late-2015 that extended tax credits for solar and wind, but left behind “orphaned” technologies such as geothermal heat pumps, fuel cells, microturbines, small wind, and combined heat and power when their credits expired Jan. 1 of this year. The Reed bill already has more than 80 cosponsors, including 50 Republicans.

Federal clean energy tax credits for clean energy technologies like geothermal heat pumps are not “corporate welfare.” Far from it; they are simply a tax reduction that helps middle-class citizens with the upfront cost of installing these technologies in their homes and businesses.

The goal of the credit is to achieve greater market penetration and help drive down the cost of the technology. We are not looking for a permanent tax credit — just the same gradual phase-out schedule that Congress adopted for solar technology.

At the same time, the nation benefits as modern technologies allow consumers to enjoy long-term reductions in energy costs that pump more dollars into local economies while putting less strain on electric power grids.

Not only that, residential and commercial geothermal heat pump installations retain and create thousands of jobs across a broad spectrum, from manufacturing to distribution and sales, drilling and excavation, and installation and maintenance. That’s why H.R. 1090 is so important to our country’s future.

In his speech declaring America’s exit from the Paris Climate Accord, President Trump said the country won’t be closing factories and losing jobs. But that is already happening to the industries left behind by Congress’ inaction on clean energy tax credits. Their expiration beginning this year now threatens thousands of geothermal and other clean energy jobs, with hard-hitting reports of layoffs increasing across the country.

“My job as president is to do everything within my power to give America a level playing field and to create the economic, regulatory and tax structures that make America the most prosperous and productive country on Earth, and with the highest standard of living and the highest standard of environmental protection,” President Trump said.

The Trump administration and Congress can help accomplish those goals by standing up for fairness across U.S. clean energy markets. They can do that by standing with so many others already in strong bipartisan support of the provisions of the Technologies for Energy Security Act of 2017, H.R. 1090.

Douglas Dougherty is the president and CEO of GEO – The Geothermal Exchange Organization, a nonprofit 501(c)(6) trade association representing the interests of all businesses involved in the geothermal heat pump industry across the United States.

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