I spent about a week in January researching how geothermal works and why anybody would want to use it, and I’ve come away impressed. It’s a solid option for homeowners and businesses (particularly for new structures). But it’s also a great option for drillers.

“I think most drillers are already thinking about it, if not doing it,” David E. Reardon told me for my feature on geothermal this month (see page 36). Reardon is manager of geothermal drilling for Long Island-based Miller Environmental Group Inc. MEG saw an uptick in inquiries for geothermal systems after Hurricane Sandy. Customers who saw their fuel oil tanks float down the street in the wake of the storm wanted a more resilient option-and geothermal was it.

I hope Reardon’s right. People will always need water and drillers to get at it for them. But drillers I talk to tell me it’s hard to make a living doing well maintenance alone. It’s a tough economic storm we’re in right now. Adding geothermal to your company’s portfolio can broaden your customer base and, like buried geothermal systems, help you weather that storm.

If you’re not drilling geothermal systems (and even if you are), I found a few resources to help.

• Of course, there’s the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association. It should be the place to start. IGSHPA (www.igshpa.okstate.edu) offers training and accreditation programs, and a wealth of other resources.

• Go to the U.S. Department of Energy website (www.energy.gov), and search “geothermal.” There, you’ll find informative articles about everything from public policy to rebates for geothermal system installations, as well as webcasts that cover the basics.

• Check out the Geothermal Exchange Organization (www.geoexchange.org). I think a lot of homeowners, wondering if geothermal is right for them, would probably check with GEO to find a contractor. You’ll likely want those potential customers to find you there.

• Visit the National Geothermal Data System (www.geothermaldata.org) website. This site’s definitely on the technical side. But, for state-by-state data on borehole temperatures or bedrock geology, go here first.

• Visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website (www.nrel.gov). NREL is part of the Department of Energy. One regular criticism of geothermal is the up-front cost. In fact, it seems that criticism overshadows the potential for long-term savings for residential and commercial users. NREL’s site discusses all sorts of incentives, state by state, for geothermal as well as other resources. Search for their Geothermal Prospector map, a useful big-picture tool.

Educate yourself about geothermal before you run your first loop. Know the tax breaks, grants and loan guarantees out there. It just may clinch the deal.

In Other News

I’m always interested in new voices to contribute to National Driller, both for print and online. Have an interesting job you want to talk about? Did you transition from water well to gas drilling? Are you sticking to water drilling, even though your fellow drillers have expanded to geothermal or just plain retired? Have technical expertise to share?

I want to hear about it. National Driller readers do, too. Drop me an email at verduscoj@bnpmedia.com if you want to write for us.

One last note: The second installment of a two-part series on the current state of hydraulic fracking (and how it affects drilling contractors) was slated to appear in this issue. Readers are going to have to wait until March for that feature. Thanks for your patience.  ND

Jeremy Verdusco, editor

Miller Environmental Group has stood by geothermal, and sees it as a resilient option for extreme weather conditions. Source: Miller Environmental Group.