Electric co-op offers geothermal installation aid

MONTROSE — The Delta-Montrose Electric Association is the first electric cooperative in the country to offer financial help to its customers in installing energy-saving geothermal systems, according to the co-op.

A public seminar on the offer will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. today at association headquarters, 11925 6300 Road. For more information or to register, call 249-4572.

Geothermal systems involve connecting underground pipes, or a ground loop, to a heat pump that extracts heat from the ground into the home.

The DMEA installed geothermal systems in a few dozen homes last year as a pilot project, DMEA spokesman Tom Polikalis said, and it found homeowners saved from 30 percent to 70 percent on energy costs compared to natural gas or propane.

The cost of installing the geothermal system is approximately $6,000, depending on the size, and it will be paid by DMEA if customers sign up, Polikalis said. The DMEA would then own the geothermal system, and homeowners would be charged a monthly fee, from $15 to $29 per month.

The fee should be offset by energy savings, said Mark Kurtz, manager of the DMEA’s geothermal division.

“A geothermal heat pump is the most energy-efficient heating and cooling option for most homes, but it has a higher up-front cost,” he said.

Polikalis said the DMEA is able to make the offer to customers because with ownership of the geothermal systems, the company can get long-term, low-interest federal loans through Rural Utility Service, which are unavailable to homeowners.

“We also want to bring this to the attention of builders and new homeowners,” Polikalis said.

Builders will benefit because they won’t have to pay the up-front costs, and the home’s selling power would go up because it will be more energy-efficient, he said.

Polikalis said the DMEA has tracked geothermal systems for years and found no one else in the United States is making this offer to customers. Ontario Hydro in Canada is the only other company he knows of that is making a similar offer, he said.


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