Department of Energy Awards $715,000 to Plan an Expansion of Networked Geothermal in Massachusetts Neighborhood

May 3, 2023

A community coalition including the City of Framingham, the utility company Eversource Energy and the nonprofit HEET have been selected as one of 11 recipients of the Department of Energy’s Community Geothermal funding initiative. The award of $715,000 will go towards planning the expansion of an in-progress networked geothermal system in Framingham, Massachusetts, adding an additional neighborhood. 

“The City of Framingham supports the development of local clean energy resources that can reduce our carbon footprint and provide long-term benefits to residents and businesses. We are enthusiastic to work with HEET, Eversource, and our local partners to explore how we can expand the use of this technology in Framingham and help advance the local sustainability and resiliency of our community,” said Mayor Charlie Sisitsky.

Networked geothermal is a non-emitting technology that regional utilities and the state are evaluating as a pathway to decarbonize natural gas heating. In Framingham, it will meet 100% of the heating and cooling needs of the buildings connected. 

“Our networked geothermal pilot project is demonstrating how we can use the earth’s constant temperature to more efficiently heat and cool a mix of residential and commercial customers in a Framingham neighborhood, which is just one of the many ways we’re working to support decarbonization efforts throughout the region,” said Eversource Vice President for Clean Technologies Nikki Bruno. “We’re proud to partner with HEET, who is a national leader in driving innovation in this space, and we’re excited that this grant will help support further evaluation of the potential for expanding the use of this technology to support decarbonization and deliver its benefits to more customers.” 

HEET and Eversource will engage the local community and other stakeholders, including the Framingham Housing Authority, the Christa McAuliffe Center at Framingham State University and local technical schools, in the design of the project. 

A portion of funds will be dedicated to providing training opportunities to develop a local clean energy workforce that can meet the growing demand for building networked geothermal systems, with a focus on training drillers. 

“Reducing the carbon footprint and true sustainability requires a strong, educated workforce to drive this lofty initiative. Qualified drillers and lateral installers will be instrumental in moving our communities and campuses off fossil fuels and combustion,” said Tracey Ogden, Geothermal and Drilling Consultant. “This very exciting grant will drive the charge to decarbonize the Commonwealth, thus allowing us all to reap the benefits of geothermal by improving the quality of our infrastructure and public health.” 

Framingham is the first location in the country of a utility-installed geothermal network. HEET has convened a team of researchers, drawing from local universities and National Laboratories, to collect data on many aspects of the system’s design and operation. The DOE’s award provides an invaluable opportunity for the research team to study the scaling and interconnection of two independent networked geothermal systems, pioneering a growth model for resilience for the community in case of extreme events and serving as a model for utilities across the country.

“We are so grateful for this award and the opportunity it provides to grow the community connections, the workforce, and the infrastructure that will get us to a better, healthier and safer future for all,” said Zeyneb Magavi, Co-Executive Director at HEET.