Co-ops heat up geothermal energy in Illinois

Installers work on a geothermal project at Southern Illinois University, one of 51 projects receiving funding under the GeoAlliance grant program.

Installers work on a geothermal project at Southern Illinois University, one of 51 projects receiving funding under the GeoAlliance grant program.

Incentives for businesses served by Illinois electric ­cooperatives to install geothermal HVAC systems have ended, but savings in energy costs generated by the dozens of ­projects it helped fund will last for years to come.

“The grants are the gift that keeps giving,” said Nancy McDonald, marketing administrator at the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives.

The association administered the 12-year, $1.5 million GeoAlliance program funded by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

According to McDonald, electric co-ops passed through the grants to help not-for-profit members install 51 geo­thermal projects for an estimated aggregate annual ­savings of more than $681,000.

A primary goal of GeoAlliance was to promote ­geothermal in commercial installations. Commercial ­applications of ­geothermal technology are more ­complicated than “more traditional residential ­installations,” said McDonald. “And boards of not-for-profit organizations often needed ­convincing that although the geo systems cost more up front than fossil-fuel HVAC systems, the savings they’d realize would ­ultimately make the geo ­systems the best choice.”

Source: Victoria A. Rocha, ECT Staff Writer

Comments are closed.