September 21, 2023
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Signs Legislation to Minimize Barriers to Accessing Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems

Governor Hochul Signs Legislation to Minimize Barriers to Accessing Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems

Legislation (S.6604/A.6949) Allows State to Better Regulate Geothermal Wells and Reduce Costs to Meet State’s Building Decarbonization Goals&

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed legislation (S.6604/A.6949) to minimize barriers to accessing geothermal heating and cooling systems to help reach the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The legislation aims to reduce costs for the installation of geothermal wells, helping New York meet the state’s building decarbonization requirements.

“There is no time to waste when it comes to making lasting change to save our planet, and that requires significantly reducing building emissions using all available technologies,” Governor Hochul said. “This legislation helps us take greater strides toward clean energy in ways that will have lasting effects on our environment and public health.”

Legislation S.6604/A.6949 aims to provide more appropriate oversight over geothermal drilling and mining by changing how certain wells drilled deeper than 500 feet below the Earth’s surface are regulated. Currently, they are regulated under the same provisions that cover oil and gas mines and drilling. This legislation will create new provisions, streamlining regulation of geothermal boreholes while ensuring that all deep well locations throughout the state are adequately reviewed and that potential impacts from the drilling process are mitigated. The legislation also includes provisions to ensure the protection of public safety and the environment during the drilling process.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Tapping into the potential of geothermal energy is critical to advancing New York’s transition to cleaner energy sources, helping to reduce the use of fossil fuels currently used to heat and cool our homes and businesses. I applaud Governor Hochul and legislative leaders for this step, which bolsters New York’s decarbonization efforts by modernizing the State’s geothermal development requirements and helping to increase the availability of heat pumps and other green technology.”

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Removing hurdles to allow more efficient access to new clean energy technologies will provide the path to our future, lowering or eliminating the reliance on fossil fuels in our homes which is fundamental to New York State achieving the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. With today’s announcement, more New Yorkers will be able to take advantage of highly efficient heat pumps that can cool and heat homes at a fraction of the cost while building a more sustainable future for our children.”

New York Power Authority President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “Achieving New York’s ambitious climate and decarbonization goals will require innovative electrification solutions and an all-hands-on-deck approach. The legislation signed today by the Governor underscore’s New York’s commitment to creating a cleaner, more sustainable future by aiming to decarbonize buildings, one of the state’s largest sources of carbon emissions.”

Chair of the Public Service Commission Rory M. Christian said, “The climate change crisis that is upon us requires an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to combat it, and Governor Hochul continues to lead the charge with innovative actions such as this.”

State Senator Peter Harckham, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation, said, “To reduce fossil fuel use and meet the ambitious goals in the Community Leadership and Community Protection Act, geothermal systems are a clean energy technology that needs to be encouraged. This new law allowing deeper boreholes means lower project costs, which will significantly ramp up this alternative energy industry statewide. I am grateful to Governor Hochul for signing the bill and to Assemblymember Glick for her work in advancing the legislation. This is a major opportunity to shift toward a green energy source that will create new jobs and real savings to homeowners while boosting our economy.”

Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, said, “In order to protect the environment and hit the ambitious goals outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, we need to make existing green technology, like geothermal heating and cooling, more accessible. I’m pleased Governor Hochul is signing this important legislation which creates a more streamlined process for geothermal boreholes that will make this technology more readily available for projects, enabling geothermal energy to be more widely used throughout New York State.”

Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Conservation Director Roger Downs said, “Renewable energy driven technology will soon heat and cool every home in New York and the most effective systems will use geothermal energy. By utilizing the steady temperature of the earth through efficient heat pumps, any home or business can affordably maintain comfortable indoor temperatures without natural gas, home heating oil or exorbitant amounts of electricity. We commend Governor Hochul and legislative leaders for recognizing that if this crucial industry is to flourish, outdated regulations meant for oil and gas wells, should not be similarly applied to geothermal systems.”

New York League of Conversation Voters President Julie Tighe said, “Easing restrictions on geothermal energy development is a major step in our transition to a clean energy economy. Decoupling clean geothermal energy from regulations that are meant to govern the dirty oil and gas sectors will help pave the way for affordable and efficient heating and cooling solutions and will go a long way toward reducing emissions from the state’s building sector. We applaud Governor Hochul along with Senator Harckham and Assemblymember Glick for getting this NYLCV scorecard bill passed and signed into law and for their continued commitment to a more sustainable New York.”

NY-GEO President and co-owner Buffalo Geothermal co-owner Jens Ponikau said, "To expand the drilling depth for closed loop geothermal bore holes is an important step forward to enable geothermal systems. We would like to thank the Legislature, the Governor, and especially the Department of Environmental Conservation for their efforts to enable geothermal technologies to thrive in New York State to replace fossil fuels for heating and hot water needs. New York has not only become the State of Opportunity, but it has also become a leader in implementing renewable energy."

This legislation builds on several actions to support the state’s work combatting climate change and reducing building emissions. Governor Hochul announced the installation of 30,000 heat pumps for New York City public housing residents and joined the US Climate Alliance to announce a commitment to quadruple heat pump installations by 2030.

Geothermal heat pump systems are among the most efficient and comfortable heating and cooling technologies available, using the Earth to provide both space heating and cooling capabilities, and in some instances, hot water heating for residential and commercial buildings.

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