FRAMINGHAM - Eversource has continued work on a geothermal energy project at Massachusetts Bay Community College's campus in Framingham.
The utility company began the pilot program as a way to bring sustainable and clean energy to about 140 customers in the city. The temperature a few feet underneath the earth's surface stays at a constant of around 55 degrees; through pumps, pipes, fluids, and wells, geothermal systems leverage that consistent energy.
"Geothermal is not all that complicated," Senior Program Manager in Clean Technologies at Eversource Eric Bosworth said.
"Basically what we're doing is we're pulling heat from the ground in the winter, we're using it to move into peoples' homes and keep them warm, and then in the summer we're doing the exact opposite. So we're pulling the heat out of the homes, putting it through the loop, and then storing it underground for the next season."
Bosworth noted that it's the first geothermal project of its kind in the country, and one that emphasizes decarbonization. The state-approved system in Framingham will serve 32 residential buildings and five commercial structures, according to Eversource.
"There had been some other campus projects and networked geothermal groups put in, but this is the first one that a utility is undertaking in the public right-of-way to hook up our customers," Bosworth explained.
Since last year, crews have been working to bring the system together. Primary drilling is taking place at one of MassBay's parking lots, while satellite lots by the Concord Street fire station and at the end of Rose Kennedy Lane will help keep water temperatures even for all customers when the system goes live. Construction has also been carried out along stretches of Normandy Road, Prindiville Avenue, and other nearly passes.
When Eversource was determining where to build this unique project, Bosworth said the Framingham site was the most viable in Eastern Massachusetts.
"This is actually a really ideal spot for this type of networked geothermal system," Bosworth continued.
"There's space to install the system...there's a really good load diversity in the neighborhood. There's businesses, there's buildings that are cooling dominated, there's residential homes and apartments that are heating dominated."
Bosworth mentioned that impacted customers in the area can expect to see a small line item on their bills when this system begins functioning, but their energy use will mainly be through electricity.
"So if they're currently on oil or propane or natural gas, that bill will mostly go away," Bosworth said.
"They may still have a little bit of usage for something like a stove or a dryer, but their heating load will transfer over onto their electricity bill. So they'll see an increased electricity bill, but net-net they should be saving on overall utility costs."
The company is hoping to finish construction on borefields and loop installations next month. When it is ready, Bosworth said the system could last a century while heating and cooling homes efficiently.
"There's some real savings in terms of customers' energy bills, but also in terms of infrastructure buildout," Bosworth added.
"When you don't have to build the infrastructure out...you can actually save a lot on costs keeping that electric grid a more reasonable size."
More details on the project can be found by clicking here.
The mission of Access Framingham is to engage, serve and enrich the community by developing programming by and for the people of Framingham, providing educational opportunities, and facilitating the exchange of ideas and information through traditional and new media.Learn More