Championed by the new California Geothermal Heat Pump Lobby Coalition (CalGeo), AB 2339 (Williams/V.M. Perez) passed in the Senate on Aug. 28 with a 36-0 vote then returned to the Assembly the following day where it also passed unanimously with a 79-0 vote. The bill requires the California Energy Commission, in consultation with the Public Utilities Commission, the Air Resources Board and other stakeholders, to evaluate and recommend policies for overcoming barriers to expanded use of geothermal heat pumps in the Golden State. Added to the Public Resources Code, the new law provides that,

“The (California Energy) Commission (CEC), in consultation with the Public Utilities Commission, cities, counties, special districts, and other stakeholders, shall evaluate and recommend policies and implementation strategies to overcome barriers to the deployment and use of geothermal heat pump and geothermal ground loop technologies.

In evaluating these policies and strategies, the bill requires the CEC to consider:
1. The quantitative benefits and costs to ratepayers specific to safer, more reliable, or less costly gas or electrical service and through greater energy efficiency, reduction of health and environmental impacts from air pollution, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions related to electricity and natural gas production and use, through the use of geothermal heat pump and geothermal ground loop technologies.
2. The existing statutory and permit requirements that impact the use of geothermal heat pumps and geothermal ground loop technologies and any other existing legal impediments to the use of geothermal heat pump and geothermal ground loop technologies.
3. The impact of the use of the geothermal heat pump and geothermal ground loop technologies on achieving the state’s goals pursuant to the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Division 25.5 (commencing with Section 38500) of the Health and Safety Code) and achieving the state’s energy efficiency goals.

The bill says CEC, “shall include the evaluations and recommendations made pursuant to this section in the Integrated Energy Policy Report that is required to be adopted for calendar year 2013.”

The CalGeo effort was supported by the national trade association for the industry, the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO). “The outstanding and dedicated efforts of CalGeo Executive Director Phil Henry (Geoexchange Solutions, Inc.) and CalGeo Co-Founder Lisa Meline, Meline Engineering, plus a long list of industry, environmental and renewable energy community supporters in passing AB 2339 into law, will bring about a new era of geothermal heat pump development in California,” said GEO President Doug Dougherty.

Doug Dougherty will be a featured presenter at Mechanical Systems WEEK, Sept. 19-21, Schaumburg, IL.