Thermal Energy Networks – Network Action Team Goal: This team is building a coalition to co-create a strategy for geothermal and other kinds of Thermal Energy Networks in Vermont. To optimize the potential of one of the cleanest, most efficient heating and cooling systems, our team is exploring multiple ownership models to support affordable housing, to make this solution available to more Vermonters, and to help meet our state mandated climate goals. Summary Thermal Energy Networks are a promising but mainly unexplored solution for decarbonizing Vermont’s thermal sector. These systems use ground source heat pumps and underground pipes to move heat and balance thermal energy among buildings. The loops can include shallow geothermal boreholes to access the ambient temperature of the earth and can harness waste heat from large buildings, refrigeration, industrial processes, and wastewater. Thermal Energy Networks have dramatically lower emissions than other systems, provide safe, healthy, affordable renewable energy to many homes and businesses at once, and can offer steady, predictable rates, protecting customers from volatile fuel prices. These underground networks not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, but also create resilience, minimal land impacts, and comparable jobs for current gas workers. Systems are designed to exchange and balance temperatures between buildings, minimizing drilling, shaving peak demands on the electric grid, and maximizing affordability. Combining networked geothermal with other thermal resources that would otherwise be wasted makes thermal networks an even stronger solution for efficient long-term energy infrastructure. Towns, developers, and businesses can begin by installing geothermal for a large municipal building or a small thermal exchange system—such as a loop between a large grocery store and an apartment building—then grow the network from there. The more buildings or neighborhoods are linked to the network, the more affordable and efficient it becomes, offering an equitable way to transition off of fossil fuels and other polluting heating sources. Geothermal and other kinds of Thermal Energy Networks are tried and true, but very few people have heard of them. We know they work, as they have been operational on college campuses and in different geographies for years. As government, industry, and businesses move to scale them nationally, our task is to implement them strategically and equitably in our state. With the Vermont Community Geothermal Alliance, this team is engaging a wide range of technical and financial experts, state and local leaders, community representatives, and national resources to inform decision-makers and develop projects. We are working to enable a more rapid implementation of Thermal Energy Networks by addressing known financial, ownership, and workforce barriers as well as creating the understanding and support needed to help this much-needed solution succeed at scale in Vermont. Our team is currently building an online suite of resources needed to support Vermont communities and businesses in pursuing a local Thermal Energy Network, including: Pros and cons of possible ownership or business models Related financing opportunities GIS tool highlighting considerations from geology to social factors Site selection criteria and project phasing recommendations To learn more about thermal energy networks, visit vcga.net. Sign up to get updates and learning opportunities from the Vermont Community Geothermal Alliance here. Register for Thermal Energy Networks for Vermont, a three-part webinar series, or any of the individual webinars. Network Action Team Members include: Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, Efficiency Vermont, Green Mountain Power, VEDA, VEIC, Vermont Bond Bank, VGS, and others with legal, financial, clean energy, and community organizing experience. Consulting with leaders from Vermont Technical College, Labor, Vermont Council on Rural Development, University of Vermont Gund Institute for the Environment, national coalitions, and experts. Pitch and Q&A from EAN 2022 Summit Pitch presented by Debbie New, Same Planet Dorie Seavey, Energy Policy Research Economist Matt Burke, UVM Community Development and Applied Economics & Gund Institute Dan Costin, Vermont Technical College Liz Medina, Vermont AFL-CIO Jim Dumont, Esq. Richard Donnelly, VGS Jake Marin, VEIC Note: Network Action Team projects were selected by the Network membership through a competitive process at the EAN annual summit. Although Network members may support specific policy actions as part of their work on these Action Teams, EAN staff serve in the role of neutral convener and refrain from advocating for specific policies.