Facility HVAC System Conversion to Ground Source Heat Pump Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Facility HVAC System Conversion to Ground Source Heat Pump
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act – Geothermal Technologies Program: Ground Source Heat Pumps
Project Type / Topic 2 Topic Area 1: Technology Demonstration Projects

Project Description Flathead Electric Cooperative (FEC) has a long proud history of environmental stewardship. A leader among utilities in this region, FEC has vigorously pursued the use of alternative energy and conservation. FEC built the first landfill gas-to-energy facility in the state of Montana; and has established numerous energy efficiency programs and instituted a very member friendly net-metering program, among other measures. Flathead Electric has invested in hydro and other renewable energy and has been instrumental in keeping the Northwest as the lowest carbon-emitting region of the United States, despite our recent high growth rates.

The system will be designed by a local engineering firm with experience in commercial geothermal heat pump and energy recovery ventilation. Local contractors will also be utilized for installation, commissioning, and measurement and verification efforts.

State Montana
Objectives The proposed project activity will include the conversion from approximately 350 kW of electric resistance heating to an 80 ton ground source heat pump system. Current loads include space heating and ventilation of FEC’s main warehouse, fleet vehicle garage, and testing facilities. The upgrade will also provide increased indoor air quality with heat recovery ventilation.
Awardees (Company / Institution) Flathead Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Awardee Website http://www.flatheadelectric.com/
Partner 1 Jackola Engineering & Architecture

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000116

DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $155,270.00
Awardee Cost Share $155,270.00
Total Project Cost $310,540.00

Principal Investigator(s) Cheryl Talley, PE

Targets / Milestones The proposed system will utilize a modular component design that allows for easy installation and future expandability. The design will take advantage of the region’s shallow aquifer resource, typically less than 50 feet, to create an open loop ground water system with water to water heat pumps. They will provide 140° F water to several unit heaters containing water coils sized for the lower water temperature. Additionally, the heat recovery ventilators will utilize the hot water to “temper” outdoor air ventilation. Although the heat pump modules can provide both heating and cooling, the space requires heating only.

To further increase system efficiency, the system is proposed to utilize multiple electronically commutated motors and VFD pumps. These types of pumps operate based on level of system demand to decrease electrical consumption and extend equipment lifetime. A “two-pipe” system design is proposed utilizing energy efficient control valves and ECM pumps. The well pumps will be VFD controlled.

Other advantages that the proposed project includes demand controlled ventilation (DCV) based on area CO and CO2 levels. This will be provided by the existing ventilation system that will purge the garage area when CO and/or CO2 levels rise above safe levels.

Location of Project Kalispell, MT

Impacts Electric cooperative utilities are an excellent target for GHPs and other demand and load management programs due to their management structure. This project will increase visibility for GHPs and encourage the other 700+ co-ops to adopt similar programs. Up to 24 jobs for project.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs