When new energy regulations were passed, an important and potentially influential renewable energy source was overlooked – geothermal. Geothermal heating and cooling systems (which bring in heat from the ground or conduct it back into the earth) currently have a tax credit, which allows more businesses and homeowners to purchase them.

Why should more home and business owners install geothermal systems? Electric capacity – having enough electricity for the grid during peak seasons – is an issue nationwide. “Geothermal systems help protect our electric grids by using half the energy of a conventional system while also allowing our electric companies to be sustained throughout the winter,” explains Art Thayer, MECA’s director of energy efficiency programs.

Geothermal systems are typically more costly to install than conventional systems, but you get your money back through lower operating costs. “Where a conventional system would cost $15,000, a geothermal system costs $30,000 or more,” explains Thayer. “Without the tax credit, fewer Michigan residents and businesses have access to these renewable, reliable sources of energy.”

After gathering support and lobbying in D.C., the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has introduced a bill to congress to extend the tax credit on geothermal systems in Michigan. However, NRECA is calling on Michigan’s co-op members for help. “There are no large contributors who will push for this bill to pass, so we need our grassroots members to contact their legislators and push them to pass this bill for their benefit and the benefit of the environment,” explains Thayer.

Members can help make a difference in the safety of Michigan’s electric grids and in the environment by going to action.coop to make geothermal systems more affordable for Michigan residents.