Craig Hart, Thomas Bourgeois, Emma Lagle, Joseph O’Brien-Applegate and Jessica Laird

Overcoming Legal and Regulatory Barriers to District Geothermal in New York State

This study examines the legal and regulatory issues confronting the development of district geothermal energy systems in the State of New York. Although geothermal technology is a reliable and economically feasible zero-emission source of building heat, resolving regulatory and property rights and permitting issues required to adopt district geothermal systems pose significant barriers. We evaluate geothermal projects along a continuum of complexity—from single owner systems—including a single owner of multiple buildings on a single parcel of land (such as a college campus)—to systems that involve multiple owners of buildings on numerous parcels of land (such as serving a downtown core). This study considers how property rights and permitting regimes governing geothermal projects can inform potential business models to advance the technology and presents recommendations for State authorities to consider in order to scale geothermal energy technology to meaningfully contribute to New York State’s meeting its greenhouse gas emission-reduction mandates under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

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