During its 2012 Legislative Fly, the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) presented four of its 2011 Geothermal Heat Pump Industry Champion Awards to key legislators in Washington, D.C. GEO member Centennial Plastics co-sponsored and prepared the awards.

“Recipients of GEO’s 2011 Champion Award understand the potential of our industry, and share our commitment to the technology,” proclaims GEO president and CEO Doug Dougherty. “They are leaders when it comes to promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, and we are proud of their efforts to help grow our industry and, in the process, create new U.S. jobs.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders was honored by GEO for his earnest and consistent support of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs). After hearing testimony on the technology’s benefits by Dougherty and GEO board member Phil Schoen (Geo-Enterprises), Sanders embraced the concept of utility on-bill financing for GHP ground loops to reduce upfront cost.

Sen. Jon Tester offered a successful amendment to an appropriations bill that directs the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a strategic plan outlining steps the agency will take to drive down GHP installed cost and promote the industry. Tester also authored the Geothermal Exploration and Technology Act, which authorizes a new research program to help reduce the current high installation costs for GHPs.

Rep. Tom Cole has seen first-hand the economic benefits of the GHP industry, especially considering the number of Oklahomans employed by the industry. His recognition of the economic benefits of GHPs helped drive legislative language in 2011 that directs the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a strategic plan by mid-June 2012 for expanding GHP market share.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen has a long-standing appreciation of GHP benefits. He was instrumental in restoring funding to the U.S. Energy Information Administration for data collection, analysis and reporting on the state of the industry.