$5 million boost for nation's largest geothermal initiative

Topics: Geothermal, Sustainability/Environment, Administrative

October 30, 2009

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Sen. Richard Lugar stands atop a drilling truck as part of the university~~~s groundbreaking ceremony for its geothermal energy project on May 8, 2009.
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $5 million to Ball State University for its geothermal initiative, the largest ground source geothermal system in the nation.

According to Sen. Richard Lugar's (R-Ind.) office, Ball State received the maximum allowable grant.

The system, to be built in two phases, will consist of about 4,100 boreholes and heat more than 45 buildings on the 660-acre campus and will save the university $2 million annually in operating costs when fully implemented. It ultimately will replace four aging coal-fired boilers, allowing Ball State to cut its carbon footprint roughly in half.

The federal funds will be used primarily to construct the underground hot- and chilled-water distribution system that will connect the north energy station to the heating and cooling systems within each of the academic, residential and recreational buildings on the northern half of campus.

"We're thankful for the assistance provided by the Indiana Congressional delegation, particularly Sen. Lugar who has been assisting Ball State with this project since the very beginning," said Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora. "He directed us to the researchers who helped design our large system, participated in the groundbreaking and dug the first ceremonial borehole."

Lugar said that geothermal technologies hold a tremendous potential for energy savings in the nation's buildings, adding that a Department of Energy study found that aggressive deployment of geothermal technology could save the nation up to $38 billion by 2030.

Others members of Congress who assisted in securing this funding include Sen. Evan Bayh, Rep. Mike Pence, Rep. Steve Buyer, Rep. Baron Hill and Rep. Andre Carson.

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