HEET – First State Law Could Shift Gas Companies towards Renewable Energy

Experts from Buro Happold will testify at a much-anticipated public hearing in Massachusetts on Tuesday, Nov. 12 about new legislation creating a path for natural gas utilities to switch to renewable sources like geothermal.

Called the FUTURE Act, this potential legislation follows on a study by the nonprofit HEET, authored by Buro Happold, which addresses the feasibility of swapping gas infrastructure to a system of interconnected ground-source heat pumps, which draw energy from the earth. The study was prompted in part by deadly gas line explosions and fires near Boston in 2018. (Download the report here.)

“This would be the first in the nation to create a plan to transition a state’s gas industry to renewables by 2050,” says Audrey Schulman, executive director of HEET.

Added Alexan Stulc, a sustainability specialist with global engineering firm Buro Happold,

“In areas like the Northeast, where gas infrastructure is failing and the supply of gas is constrained, some utilities are exploring new business models for one of their core services: providing heating to customers.”

“Utilities are beginning to see advantages to moving away from natural gas,” says Stulc, noting that the current ongoing replacement of more than one-quarter of Massachusetts’s aging natural gas infrastructure will take about two decades and over $9 billion to complete — all funded through customer rate increases. The innovative GeoMicroDistrict Feasibility Study led by Buro Happold proposes a greener alternative.

The public hearing for the proposed FUTURE Act legislation took place Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 1:00pm.

To find out more about the study authored by our team, click here.

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