Harnessing the Power of the Ground Beneath Our Feet: Encouraging Greater Installation of Geothermal Heat Pumps in the Northeast United States

Although ground-source heat pumps are an appealing source of renewable energy, they have yet to truly catch on in the United States—especially in the Northeast.  The Introduction of this Note will introduce readers to the different types of geothermal heat pumps and their mechanics.  Part I will explain how high initial costs, information deficits, and governmental failures to make available equal financial incentives for geothermal heat pumps in the Northeast have inhibited the growth of their usage in the region.  Part II will analyze the financial incentives and regulations that impact the use of geothermal heat pumps.  Part III will discuss the barriers to widespread geothermal heat pump adoption and why current laws and regulations are inadequate to address these barriers.  Part IV will propose several ways state governments can encourage greater installation of geothermal heat pumps.  Specifically, I will argue that a loan program modeled after New York’s On-Bill Recovery Program, an enhanced information- forcing regime, better training, and a legislative “fair funding” requirement are necessary to spark an increase in geothermal heat pump use.

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