Our phones have been ringing off the hook about geothermal. This has been an incredibly welcoming return of federal funding. We had about 50 or so proposals from last year that never went forward with the job do to the loss of the 30% tax credit. Some of them got other types of heating systems installed, some decided to do nothing, and others just waited. We have reached out to everyone we gave a proposal to and they are now looking to go forward with the installation. In addition to that we had so many residential jobs committed to air source heat pump installations, but now they have decided to look at the geothermal options instead.
SO this has been fantastic news, we have a very small staff of 6 people and we are now looking to double that in the next few months to keep up with the jobs we had. Our 2 major geothermal suppliers have also told us that there sales have increased significantly in the last few months, and they anticipate having great numbers this year....which leads to more jobs in that area too!!! This is what we needed!
Melissa Aho; Ultra Geothermal, Inc.
Visit us at: www.ultrageothermal.com
Phone: 603-868-7878 Fax: 603-868-6265
NEED Help Buying or Selling your home? I specialize in energy efficient homes:
MELISSA AHO RICE / Sales Agent REALTOR: Cell**: (603) 380-6126
I would love to say that the geothermal systems sell on their virtues alone and that an experienced salesperson can get it done without the credits.
That being said, here in Iowa, the 30% federal credit reinstatement has made a significant impact and we are seeing a tremendous increase in interest. Our company is in the ground loop installation segment of the business and work with the HVAC partners to complete the inside portion.
The return of the tax credit of 30% leveled the playing field with solar, and we have seen and heard the customer explain that the up front credit helped make the decision to go geothermal.
And to that, I can say from one small company perspective that we have written more proposals in the two months since the federal tax credit was reinstated than we did from Jan 1, 2017 to October 31, 2017.
It made that big of a difference.
Larry LeliefeldPresident, G.E.O. Inc.email@example.com www.geo-inc.comDecorah information (use for mailing address): Geothermal Eco Options, Inc. Mobile: (563) 203-0184P.O. Box 401 Phone: (563) 382-0300Decorah, IA 52101 Fax: (563) 382-0305Cresco information (use for shipping address): Geothermal Eco Options, Inc. Mobile: (563) 203-0184407 2nd Avenue S.W. Phone: (563) 547-2871Cresco, IA 52136 Fax: (563) 547-2874
Pete, you're exactly right when you say that if just depend of tax credits we need to start looking for new jobs. The key is learning to design systems that are both cost-effective to install and operate efficiently throughout their life. I've been doing some work with an electric utility trying to promote the use of geo systems in their service area. The response their customers were getting when they went to their engineer to determine if it was feasible (in 4 out of 4 projects I've worked on) was "well, let's see...your building is 24,000 square feet...divide by 400 square feet per ton equals 60 tons...multiply by 200' of borehole per ton...you need about 12,000' of borehole!"No consideration of the type of building, how it would be used, what could be done on the site with the geology they had to deal with...only rules of thumb to determine the "feasibility" of the project. Three of the four projects would have gone with a conventional system. The utility asked us to work with their customer's engineer, work through a proper energy model, use the energy model to inform the design team about what changes could be made to reduce, and more importantly, balance the energy loads, look at the geology and all GHX options. In each project the size / cost of the GHX was reduced by 40-70% compared to the rules of thumb.With a detailed energy model used as a design tool to make changes to the building and system, all four projects installed a geothermal system. Based on this and other work we've been doing, probably 70-80% of projects, where the client wants a geothermal system, don't end up with a geothermal system because "designers" either don't know how to model the building or are too lazy / busy to do so. It's "easier" to do what they've always done.Of the engineers we've worked with on these projects, two of them have since started recommending geothermal systems to their clients...without incentives or prodding from the utilities. If the industry is serious about wanting to sell systems and grow the industry, designers need to learn how to design cost-effective and efficient systems.
The majority of my work involves forensics and construction defect litigation of bad geo installs, ranging from small homes to 200,000+ sf commercial projects (geo-janitorial does provide a very good income!); as simple as our technology is, the fact of the matter is we have a substantial part of our industry that is incompetent - evaluation, design, execution, controls, maintenance and service. It is not intentional, but a lot of people in the mechanical profession/trades really do not even realize what they need to know.As I have said way too many times, bad news rides a faster horse then good news; Pete Prydybasz had an even better quote in his Orlando presentation pertaining to the same thing:
"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on" – Winston Churchill
We should be self sustaining without the need for credits or incentives. However, once the Kool-Aid was mixed and guzzled, seems like we cannot go back – consumers are already poisoned. Let's be honest - will our industry really be sustainable when the current tax credits expire in 2022? Based on general comments from various contractors, engineers and clients, it does not seem like anyone has a plan to break the addiction of associating ourselves with incentives.
I don't have all the answers but I do have some comments and suggestions:
1. For all of the designers, engineers and contractors doing a good job – keep it up! Do your best to keep a list of those jobs that are working great; good histories and customer referrals tend to bring in more business. Our industry needs to brag up our successes better then we have been doing.2. On smaller jobs, ie, residential, try to get your systems sub-metered to trend actual operating costs where practical. This usually proves that while a tax credit is good, it is merely icing on the cake and should be emphasized as such, as the technology can stand on its own merits.3. The veteran, successful geo-junkies in the industryshould make themselves available, even to their competitors, for peer review of small to large projects – and you should get paid for this as this is a value added service that can likely save a newbie engineer or contractor from creating a problem. Or better yet, a veteran designer or contractor that continues to repeat the same mistakes….4. Our industry needs to advocate for true functional performance testing of completed projects to prove performance of the system – raise the bar for design and installation requirements by confirming system integrity. Too bad the federal tax credits do not have a requirement of this type to qualify for the incentives, I think this would take care of itself to achieve a better history we can all reference as an industry.5. We need better training for all aspects of our industry – design, installation, controls, maintenance and service.6. Try not to emphasize tax credits as the deciding factor for a client to go with a geo system.
We just completed our 4th Annual NY-GEO Top Job Competition (see attached), the Winner was Larry Lassard. We know that these stories are all over the place, they just need exposure, so I would suggest a very concerted effort, coordinated and co-funded by as many stakeholders as possible to flood all the various construction trade magazines, web sites with well written case studies. I would suggest at the GEO level (Doug/Ryan/Ted) we rechannel funding away from the political endeavors and steer it into marketing/social media campaigns.
John D. Manning, PE, President, Phoenix Energy Supply, (315) 253-3720