Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Vendors: Tax Credit Is Critical to Keep Geothermal Biz Pumping

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Vendors: Tax Credit Is Critical to Keep Geothermal Biz Pumping

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Dan Ellis said he wants the same treatment his competitors get: extensions for tax credits. The chairman of Comfortworks Inc. is among at least two dozen people lobbying Congress to extend an expiring tax credit for ground-source heat pumps.

Ellis said his geothermal heat pump business and dozens of service companies in Oklahoma could suffer without the extension.

The state is considered the epicenter of the industry, said Doug Dougherty, president and CEO of national trade group Geoexchange. Oklahoma State University does research and development to improve the equipment and process and is home to the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association. Climatemaster is the largest component manufacturer in the U.S.

Ellis' crew on Friday put the finishing touches on a geothermal heat pump at oil and gas driller Gulfport Energy Corp.'s new headquarters, still under construction. The geothermal heating, ventilation and air conditioning system costs about $3.5 million, slightly more than 10 percent of the building's cost.

A network of pipes is connected to 170 500-foot deep bores, which recirculate water through the ground and into a heat exchanger system. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning pumps were made in Broken Arrow. The drilling rigs used to bore the holes are made in Enid. The high-density polyethylene pipes were made in Oklahoma City.

Dougherty said the tax credit is needed to help shorten the payback period for the projects. One project in Oklahoma City could have a 1.7-year payback with the tax credit and a rebate from the local utility. Otherwise, the payback period would be about 22 years. The tax credit is set to expire in December, so any project that isn't completed by then won't qualify.

Dougherty and Ellis visited Capitol Hill the third week in September, with representatives from Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the National Association of Home Builders and the American Air Conditioning Contractors. The coalition visited 54 congressmen and women in two days.

Dougherty said the solar photovoltaic and large wind industries received an extension for their tax credit program in December 2015. …

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