- Policy Platforms
Governor Jared Polis of Colorado launched The Heat Beneath Our Feet (HBOF) as his 2023 WGA Chair Initiative. The initiative will examine opportunities for and barriers to the increased deployment of geothermal energy technologies for both electricity generation and heating and cooling systems in western states, which contain the vast majority of high-yield geothermal energy capacity in the U.S.
Geothermal energy represents a potentially valuable, but underdeveloped, energy resource in the West. Geothermal energy has applications for both utilityscale electricity generation and heating and cooling needs within buildings. The initiative will examine the various market, technology and policy factors that affect the development and deployment of geothermal technologies, and evaluate strategies to scale geothermal technologies across the West considering different energy policy landscapes, available geothermal resources, and technology and workforce maturity, and how these factors influence the potential deployment of geothermal solutions. It will seek to develop key findings on geothermal energy applications, land use planning, and market barriers in the West. It will also assess opportunities to improve federal mapping of and access to geothermal energy reserves and project permitting procedures on federal public lands. Initiative findings will be memorialized in an Initiative Report to be released at the WGA 2023 Annual Meeting, to be held in Boulder, Colorado.
The Western Governors’ Association kicked off Colorado Gov. Jared Polis' WGA Chair Initiative, Heat Beneath Our Feet, with a tour of Colorado Mesa University’s geo-exchange heating system. This system heats and cools 19 buildings covering more than 1.2 million sq ft and saves Colorado Mesa University $1.2 million each year.
Following the tour, WGA hosted a webinar with geothermal experts to discuss how the system works, what opportunities exist for replicating this technology throughout the West, and the challenges to implementation.
The Well of the Future: Repurposing Oil and Gas Wells for Geothermal Energy Production
In the latest episode of WGA’s Out West podcast, The Well of the Future: Repurposing Oil and Gas Wells for Geothermal Energy Production, WGA Policy Advisor Steven Emmen sits down with Johanna Ostrum, the Chief Operating Officer of Transitional Energy; Will Pettitt, the Geothermal Discipline Lead at Baker Hughes; and Will Gosnold, a professor of geological engineering at the University of North Dakota.
Together they delve into the potential for blending aspects of the oil and gas industry with geothermal energy production and how it can help make both industries more efficient and sustainable.
As part of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ WGA Chair Initiative, The Heat Beneath Our Feet, the Western Governors’ Association will be conducting tours of geothermal facilities throughout the region to explore the various market and policy factors that affect the development and deployment of geothermal technologies, and evaluate strategies to scale those technologies across the West.
In late September, Gov. Polis visited the geo-exchange heating and cooling system at Colorado Mesa University (CMU) with officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Bureau of Land Management.
Using less than half of the electricity required by a traditional HVAC system, the geo-exchange system at CMU currently heats and cools 70% of the buildings on campus (1.2 million square feet), reducing the University’s carbon footprint by nearly 18 metric tons per year, and saving $1.5 million a year on energy costs – savings that are passed on to the students.
It’s been so successful, the University is not only expanding the system to all of the new construction on campus, but it’s also working with the city of Grand Junction to explore options for expanding the system into the surrounding community.
“This is an exciting example of community-scale geothermal,” Gov. Polis said. “Once we build this great geothermal heating and cooling system, we can leverage it to help extend the benefits and savings to the community.”
To learn more about the geo-exchange heating and cooling system at CMU watch the video below or watch a WGA webiar with Will Toor, the Executive Director of the Colorado Energy Office, and Kent Marsh, the Vice President for Capital Planning Sustainability.