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Hello.  I’ve recently started to volunteer at Sustainable Westchester, a non-profit organization that promotes all actions related to reducing our carbon footprint.  My first project is to put together an information sheet to educate local municipalities about geothermal energy networks and their benefits.  I learned a lot about geothermal energy and am happy to share this information with those of you who are new to this as well:

  • Municipalities must plan for future energy needs that are affordable, equitable, sustainable, and create jobs. That’s where geothermal energy networks come in.
  • Recently, the New York Senate (NYS) passed the Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act to promote the development of thermal energy networks throughout the state and to provide jobs to transitioning utility workers who have lost or are at risk of losing their employment.The bill, which passed in the New York Senate by a vote of 63-0, also requires the training of utility workers to work on thermal energy projects

Technical explanation

  • How does geothermal energy work?  Geothermal is heat (thermal) derived from the earth (geo). Scientists have developed the capacity to harness geothermal heat to create energy via power plants, enhanced geothermal solutions, direct use, and geothermal heat pumps.  There are various sources of thermal energy like geothermal boreholes, surface water, and wastewater.  In addition, waste heat from large industrial buildings can also be used to heat smaller buildings.
  • What are Thermal Energy Networks?  – Rather than each building needing its own borehole, multiple buildings can use a networked utility-scale infrastructure system to share the same thermal source.  Buildings are linked together via underground pipes. Each building is equipped with a heat pump that provides heating or cooling by exchanging thermal energy with pipes containing circulating water. 



Minimal greenhouse emissions, small footprint for the amount of power produced


Use of geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy costs by up to 40%

Price certainty

Insulated from fuel price volatility

Energy diversity

Promotes use of diverse energy resources

Mature technology

Geothermal is a proven resource

Social equity

Provides a just transition to clean energy

Job creation

Skilled workforce required for installation and maintenance

Implementation options

Options for bringing thermal energy to municipalities/communities include:

  • Create thermal energy system for individual campuses
  • Organize coalition to form thermal energy network/partnership
  • Source from local utility company

Installing these networked systems is a 4 year process from idea to implementation and $ generation:

  • Year 1;
    • Pre-Development – Feasibility study
    • Scope and Design
    • Implementation
  • Year 2:
    • Coalition building
    • Partner identification – assets, roles, $
      • e.g. Emergent, Sustainable West, Municipality
    • Feasibility study
  • Year 3:
    • Scope and design
    • Add more players to network
  • Year 4:
    • Implementation 
    • Revenue generation

Geothermal energy plant in Iceland

Related links

Geothermal Technologies Office (USA DoE)

SPHEEHA Blog Guest Author

Pam Miner

Director of Partnerships - Hudson Valley Center for Innovation

Helping small businesses succeed has always been my passion. I started my career in international business development and marketing, working with small businesses to sell their products overseas. Shifting my attention closer to home while raising my kids, I ran sales and operations for our family's building products rep firm. During that time I developed a heightened interest in and became involved with several local sustainability projects. This led me to join the Greenburgh Nature Center where I combined my passion for sustainability with my expertise in strategic planning, marketing, and grant writing to help build their Sustainability department. Returning to my work with small businesses, I am currently the Director of Partnerships and Program Manager at the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation, where I share my business expertise with entrepreneurs and small business owners looking to grow their companies sustainably. I am also volunteering at Sustainable Westchester, furthering my commitment to promoting solutions that allow us to tread more lightly on the earth.