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U.S. Department of Energy Awards Wallingford Affordable Housing Complex Clean Energy Grant

CT DEEP-Led Effort Wins Nationwide Competition for Clean Geothermal Energy Project Design and Deployment

(HARTFORD) – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it has selected a proposal submitted by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), in coordination with the University of Connecticut (UConn), Wallingford Housing Authority (WHA), Wallingford Electric Division, and Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP), to design a geothermal heating and cooling system to support an affordable housing development in Wallingford.

The 132-unit development – Ulbrich Heights, owned and operated by the Wallingford Housing Authority – was one of only 11 projects in 10 states selected.

The DOE funding will support an effort to design a district geothermal heating and cooling system that will serve at least 50% of the heating and cooling needs of the complex, develop a geothermal workforce development plan for Connecticut, and share lessons learned and geothermal technology benefits with the community and other interested parties. The total award for all 11 projects was $13 million, of which approximately $700,000 is expected to be invested in Connecticut.

“I’m thrilled that this DEEP-led initiative was selected by the U.S. DOE, one of just 11 projects in ten states to receive awards, said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “DEEP has been focused on securing federal funding for innovative approaches to make energy cleaner and more affordable in residential buildings, which are now the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in our state, as our latest Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report showed us. This technology can be a less expensive means of heating and cooling and can help improve air quality for residents in an Environmental Justice community. It also promises a replicable model to convert fossil fuel-based systems in other multi-family affordable housing properties across the state.”

Community geothermal systems take advantage of the consistent temperatures below the earth’s surface to provide heating and cooling to multiple residences and businesses through an underground distribution network. Such systems, which can use a variety of technologies, take advantage of underground temperatures that are warmer than the air in winter and cooler than the air in summer.

"Congratulations to the project team,” said Wallingford Mayor William Dickinson. “Wallingford Housing Authority provides critical services to our residents. It is exciting to proceed with design and define the benefits of using clean geothermal energy.”

George M. Bollas, Director of UConn’s Pratt & Whitney Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering, said, “UConn, Connecticut’s flagship state university, is honored to be part of this effort. The design of a low-temperature, shallow geothermal heating and cooling system for the low-income Connecticut environmental justice communities in Wallingford is well aligned with the mission of the University to support the growth and prosperity of the state. For UConn’s Pratt & Whitney Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering, whose Associate Director of Research Programs, Professor Ravi Gorthala, led this effort, it is a great opportunity to strengthen our green energy and climate change research portfolio, engage and support communities of the state, and translate systems engineering research to practices that have direct impact on Connecticut’s building decarbonization efforts. When implemented, the planned district geothermal heating and cooling system at Ulbrich Heights will save at least 155 tons of CO2 emissions annually while improving air quality for the 21 handicapped, 19 elderly, and 100 female-headed households on the site. That’s true, measurable and direct impact!”

“Kudos to DEEP for their leadership in building a winning team. This project will help demonstrate what’s possible when we combine shared thermal networks with geothermal heat pumps – a cutting edge solution that will deliver unmatched energy efficiency performance,” said Dave Lis, NEEP’s Director of Technology Market Transformation. “Beyond direct benefits that the system will bring to residents in Wallingford, the project will also support necessary workforce development to deliver these systems across Connecticut and the region.”

The proposal is also supported by a project advisory committee consisting of representatives of the Connecticut Office of Workforce Strategy, the Connecticut Office of Environmental Justice, Eversource Energy, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, and the Connecticut Department of Housing.

The U.S. Department of Energy announcement can be found here: U.S. Department of Energy Announces $13 Million to Support Community Geothermal Heating and Cooling Solutions | Department of Energy
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