Looks Like Boreholes in Our Future

Drilling geothermal boreholes in England
October 1, 2020

Most of you have heard by now about the GeoMicroDistrict, the HEET proposal for heating and cooling our homes and businesses with networked geothermal systems. This proposal is moving from an idea to a reality with many proposed pilots.

  • Eversource Gas has requested permission from the Department of Public Utilities to install three GeoMicroDistrict pilots. HEET is an intervenor in the case and is pushing for greater stakeholder and community involvement. 
  • National Grid has also announced they will request permission in the fall to install GeoMicroDistrict pilots in Massachusetts.
  • As a result of the 2018 Merrimack Valley gas explosions mismanagement lawsuits, the Columbia Gas territory is for sale. The Joint Settlement Agreement request has Attorney General’s office (AGO) requested that a Merrimack Valley Renewal Fund be created as part of the sale, with $4 million reserved for a competitively bid networked geothermal pilot in the Merrimack Valley. The cost for the pilot would be borne by shareholders instead of by ratepayers. 
  • Consolidated Edison in New York has filed their intention to research and pilot two networked geothermal systems with state regulators. Consolidated Edison owns both ConEd and Orange and Rockland utilities along with other subsidiaries.
  • A National Grid subsidiary in upstate New York, Niagara Mohawk, has just announced a rate case request for funding for 2,600 networked geothermal heating tons in its gas territory. In terms of size, this would be over 600 average sized homes.
  • NYSERDA, the New York state regulator, which also has a strong innovation and education arm, will announce funding this fall for scoping, design, and implementation of pilots.
  • Xcel Energy, one of the more forward-thinking multistate utilities in the country, requested a second GeoMicroDistrict presentation from HEET and is sharing the presentation internally.

Our presentations on GeoMicroDistricts have resulted in a number of communities interested in the solution as well, including:

  • Cambridge has proactively engaged HEET in their renewable thermal planning process and identified the GeoMicroDistrict as a key potential path forward.
  • The City of Boston’s Energy and Environment Department has been actively finding potential pilot sites for us, since it sees the pilot as a way to meet its carbon reduction goals.
  • The developer of Suffolk Downs, HYM Investment Group, is exploring use of GeoMicroDistricts for the 10,000 homes, as well as the stores and businesses, that will be built on the East Boston site.
  • The City of Worcester is in the process of drafting an ambitious new citywide sustainability plan, which includes establishing at least one sustainability district and identifying "opportunities for innovative energy pilot projects."
  • Officials in the town of Bridgeport, Connecticut, which is currently served by Southern Connecticut Gas, contacted HEET. We’ve put the municipality in touch with experts in networked geothermal, and Bridgeport is moving forward to consider installing a GeoMicroDistrict to be owned and operated by the municipality.

HEET has assembled a research group (including two national labs, Harvard School of Public Health, and MIT Sloan School) to perform a design review and help evaluate the results and potential impact if scaled up. We will help ensure the information is public and transparent so the pilots can be scaled up as quickly as possible. 

We’ll also be assembling a wide group of interested stakeholders, from community organizations and activists to regulators and utility staff, to ensure information flows well, that potential problems are surfaced, and that environmental justice is served.