- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
- Department of Public Utilities
- Electric Power Division
Media Contact for Department of Public Utilities Approves National Grid Geothermal Demonstration Project
Craig Gilvarg, Director of Communications
BOSTON — Building on the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing efforts to pursue clean energy policies that enable the Commonwealth to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) today announced it has issued an Order approving National Grid’s proposed five‑year geothermal energy demonstration project. The demonstration project explores the use of geothermal energy to provide the technology as a low-carbon heating solution for customers and an alternative that avoids replacing “leak-prone” natural gas pipe that contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“Reducing emissions from the heating sector is a crucial part of our strategy to meet our ambitious climate goals in Massachusetts, and today’s Order will allow the Commonwealth to explore the role geothermal can play as part of a clean energy future,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Theoharides. “The Baker-Polito Administration is pursuing a variety of policies and strategies to decarbonize the way we heat our homes and businesses, including the first-in-the-nation Commission on Clean Heat, and this demonstration project will advance those efforts by assessing an innovative technology that has the potential to provide an efficient, low-carbon solution for residents across the Commonwealth.”
Geothermal energy is a form of renewable energy that has the potential to significantly reduce GHG emissions in furtherance of the Commonwealth’s emissions targets. The DPU’s Order approves a five-year demonstration project in which National Grid will investigate the use of geothermal energy to reduce GHG emissions, encourage the development of sustainable heating options, and develop technologies capable of advancing low carbon heating solutions and managing gas system constraints, particularly during peak demand.
“The Department’s Order is a step in the direction of supporting the development of sustainable, efficient clean energy technologies that advance Massachusetts’ climate goals,” said Department of Public Utilities Chair Matt Nelson. “Projects like this allow us to see the potential for scaling geothermal networks with minimal customer bill impacts.”
The total cost of National Grid’s geothermal demonstration program will be $15.6 million over five years. A typical residential heating customer would experience bill impacts between $0.24 and $3.48 per year from current rates, while a typical residential low-income customer would experience bill impacts between $0.18 and $2.57 per year.
Unlike geothermal demonstration projects implemented in other service territories, National Grid’s project focuses on converting natural gas customers to geothermal energy as an alternative to replacement of leak‑prone pipe, which contributes to methane emissions. The project also prioritizes the conversion of gas customers in low-income and environmental justice communities to geothermal service.
Next, National Grid will need to submit its detailed implementation plan to the DPU, which will undertake a full review for approval.
In September 2021, Governor Baker signed an Executive Order establishing a first-in-the-nation Commission on Clean Heat, to advise the Administration on strategies and policies to achieve deep emissions reductions from the use of heating fuels in the Commonwealth. The Commission, the first-of-its-kind in the United States, will establish a framework for a long-term decline in emissions from heating fuels, consistent with the findings from the Administration’s 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap, and help the Commonwealth meet the ambitious emissions reduction targets signed into law by Governor Baker in March 2021.