To use the "submit survey" button to sent your survey result, you need download the PDF to your computer first, then fill the survey before you click the "submit survey" button.You can fill the PDF by opening the attachment in the original message from Erin, but the "submit survey" button seems not working until you download the PDF to your computer.Thanks for your inputs and support to this study.
We hear and read the costs of drilling the vertical loop well heat exchanger field are a barrier to the growth of the GSHP sector. That may be, but it should not be an expectation for the drilling contractor to fall on his profitability sword so others may profitably succeed.
The National Ground Water Association several years ago created a geothermal (GSHP) drilling cost calculator as a membership benefit to our member drilling contractors. Of course, our members' adoption and use of the calculator is an option for them and some have and some have not. We have heard some say it is too much information to enter into the calculator in order to understand one's drilling costs, and most importantly, one's drilling profitability. However, we have heard from others who have said the calculator helped them much better understand their complete and true costs to drill loop wells and they could then responsibly adjust their drilling prices accordingly. Some member drilling firms remain active in the GSHP market, while others have withdrawn, no longer finding loop well drilling efficiently fitting to their business operations. Drilling firms can somewhat control their costs for labor, fuel, equipment, insurance, and the dozens of other items which enter into a complete picture of drilling costs. But their ability to significantly modify those costs is limited. A drilling contractor, like most businesses, has a choice to adjust price, and subsequently profitability, and ultimately, their ability to stay in business.
Kevin B. McCray, CAE | CEO
Advancing groundwater knowledge
Providing | Protecting | Managing | Remediating
and also serving the NGWA Foundation
601 Dempsey Road | Westerville, Ohio 43081| USA
800 551.7379 (614 898.7791) x 1503 | fax 614 898.7786
www.NGWA.org | www.WellOwner.org
Private Well Owner Hotline: 855-H2O-WELL (855 420.9355)
This e-mail and any attachments are only for the use of the individual or entity to which they are addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential, and exempt from disclosure under applicable law.
We have been down this road before and we have agreed to disagree but I must respond to your post. You refer to something called a "vertical loop well." The geothermal heat pump industry has always referred to this part of the geothermal heat pump system as a vertical Ground Heat Exchanger (GHX), fully grouted and adhering to GHP industry setback standards. The term "well" invites all kinds of local regulations that in fact creates barriers, time and money, to the installations of GHXs, not wells. In Illinois, I can't tell you how many of your members are frustrated because vertical ground heat exchangers are referred to as "closed loop wells" which is a non sequitur and now they have to pay and wait for a permit to drill a GHX from one of 102 county health departments which had regulated domestic water wells and now regulate a deep post hole. Many health department officials are ignorant of our technology and delays are prevalent. In some cases the new regulations have disallowed the installation of a GHP. In California, the notion that a vertical GHX is a water well is creating insurmountable barriers to GHP deployment. Adding the word "well" to an industry term used for decades by the geothermal heat pump industry, Ground Heat Exchanger (GHX), adds costs (time and money) and potentially lowers the profits of drillers.
I find it ironic that in 1997 the NGWA's first publication offering guidelines to your members about installing a GHX and funded by the geothermal heat pump industry was entitled, Guidelines for the Construction of Vertical Boreholes for Closed Loop Heat Pump Systems. Your 4th iteration of this guideline no longer funded by the geothermal heat pump industry is now entitled Guidelines for the Construction of Loop Wells for Vertical Closed Loop Geothermal Heat Pump Systems. I am perplexed as to how your industry changed the term of my industry from Vertical Boreholes to Loop Wells.
If we truly want to make the companies in both our industries more profitable we should collectively work to lower the cost of business regulations which now include a growing number of local regulations covering something called a loop well.
President and CEO
GEO, Geothermal Exchange Organization
312 S. 4th Street, Suite 100
Springfield, IL 62701
Direct (217) 414-0341
We've come to believe labels have little to responsibly do with costs and prices when fully committed to doing two critical jobs right: (1) protecting the groundwater resource, and (2) making sure the projects work to their best of their intended design.
To whom it may concern
We have run into the same situation that referring to ground loop heat exchanger boreholes as wells has cost a lot of money. At Ball State University in 2009, we drilled the first phase of their closed loop geothermal program and the engineer had referred to the boreholes as "wells". The city of Muncie picked up on this right away and charged thousands of dollars for the project on a "per well" cost for the permitting. We have run into this only a few other occasions, many times due to the fact that we have cautioned the engineers of this problem before the specs were out or before the permits were obtained. We definitely recommend referring to these as boreholes. It is not just words it can cost a lot of money due to one word and depending upon the contract language, it may cost the drilling contractor.
Ortman Drilling and Water Services
This industry needs more oversight not less. Having good codes and regulations would be an outstanding benefit to our industry. The inconsistency of work practices is driving all of the high quality contractors out of this industry. I certainly can't compete with people who use half as much grout in their loop wells as is necessary for proper heat transfer and environmental protection. Good codes and educated officials is possible, for every CA and IL, there is a MN, OK and IA, states where the enforcement and permitting is logical and straightforward.Lowering first cost should not come at the expense of quality and reliability, two things that our industry has had great struggles with for far too long. Worrying about if terminology would invite regulation should be the least of our concerns. Using the opportunity to inform and educate is much better than trying to hide from the inevitable. When you are putting borings into the earth to the depths that loop wells are installed, you will eventually be getting regulated. We can't even get tax credits extended, how would we ever get a blanket exemption from loop well construction?
I am going to agree with all three of you here!
Kevin is absolutely correct that we cannot expect drillers to reduce their costs by cutting their overhead and profits. Lloyd is correct that the building itself must be addressed to minimize the amount of outside heat exchanger required. And Doug, with from legislative perspective, has correctly (in my opinion) addressed the cost of regulations based on incorrect information and classification of our industry by regulators and inspectors.
At the Clemson Geothermal conference a couple weeks ago I made the statement in my presentation that we have all the pieces of the puzzle to reduce first costs, but we are not applying them as an industry. For example, on the technology side, we have new ground heat exchanger products and grouts that can reduce first costs by providing better heat exchange capability with reduced bore hole length. This effectively reduces drilling costs but does not reduce a driller's per/foot profitability- and hopefully results in more total drilling because more projects become affordable. Are you skeptical of this concept? Look at the projects that are being done in Europe with concentric heat exchangers, or look into the new Ford headquarters in Dearborn which will also employ a concentric heat exchanger to serve what is probably the largest (Geothermal) project currently being installed in North America.
On the building side, particularly in the commercial markets, we have software that can now size ground loops using hourly loads, but so often we don't use this information interactively with the consideration of building envelope improvements, to minimize the total heat exchanger required. As Lloyd showed with his farmhouse example, a heat exchanger sized to condition a leaky building is not affordable and will not result in a comfortable system. Ed Lohrenz has been preaching and teaching this concept for a long time.
And yes, Doug, you are so right about how we name ourselves, what we call the holes we put in the ground, and the confusion it creates in the regulatory world- resulting in more costs to the systems we install, or at least try to sell. How do we more effectively get the word out?
There is no silver bullet- no solution to first costs that stands on its own. The solution is a combination of using the best technology, employing the best designs and being fairly treated in codes, regulations, and incentive programs. At Clemson I mentioned that we can only move forward with Education, Communication and Participation. That will fall heavily on IGSHPA, NGWA and GEO in concert with the State geothermal organizations and our respective memberships. So easy to say, so challenging to do!