New York Approves Landmark Thermal Network Legislation


On July 5, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed NY Senate Bill S9422 into law, which "establishes 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."

Thermal Energy Networks are utility-scale infrastructure projects that connect multiple buildings into a shared network with sources of thermal energy like geothermal boreholes, surface water, and wastewater. Rather than each building needing its own borehole, multiple buildings in a network can share the same thermal sources. In addition, waste heat from large industrial buildings can also be used to heat smaller residential buildings.

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. The water in the pipes maintains a temperature within the needed range by exchanging heat with geothermal boreholes or other thermal resources.

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. Preference is given to those who have been displaced by reduction of natural gas consumption, distribution infrastructure, and building construction.

As early as 1990, when asked what it would take to facilitate widespread adoption of geothermal heat pump technologies, I shared that a utility network of hydronic pipelines (just like water and sewer mains) would need to be in place to facilitate utility hookups to building HVAC systems. More than 30 years later, New York State has seen the passage of Senate Bill S 9422; perhaps the first of its kind in the US.
Jay Egg, Geothermal Rising Board of Directors