Powering Strong Communities

Work Begins on Geothermal Network in Massachusetts City

Eversource recently broke ground on a utility-scale networked geothermal system in Framingham, Massachusetts, that is believed to be the first in the nation.

Geothermal technology transfers heat to and from the earth using water, wells, piping, and pumps to pull the earth’s heat out of the ground to warm buildings in winter and pumping heat from buildings back into the ground in summer to cool them.

Eversource chose Framingham’s Concord Street neighborhood for the networked geothermal system because the utility already provides services to a diverse group of customers there, including single- and multi- residential housing, as well as commercial customers. The underground piping for the geothermal network will connect 37 buildings – 32 residential and five commercial – serving a total of 140 customers.

Eversource began testing last year, drilling wells at three bore fields in Framingham to determine how much heat could be put in and taken out of the ground. The tests confirmed that each location was viable and helped Eversource evaluate the accuracy of its thermal capacity models so the utility could size the system appropriately.

Once in service, the pilot project is intended to run 24 months through two heating and cooling seasons. Eversource entered into an agreement with participating customers for the duration of the pilot and will accept customer feedback before, during, and after the pilot period.

Eversource is paying for the cost of constructing and installing the geothermal system, as well as for all the equipment to be installed in homes and businesses. The participants will pay a fixed charge each month for access to the geothermal network and will be responsible to pay for the electricity to power the heat pumps.

Customers’ monthly energy costs should ultimately decrease because they will no longer be primarily paying for natural gas or delivered fuels to heat and cool their homes and businesses, Eversource said.

If there is a problem with the technology or customers want an alternate heating and cooling service, Eversource said it would work to ensure the continued heating and cooling of the property.

In 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved Eversource’s Geothermal Pilot Program that aims to evaluate the potential of geothermal energy to complement or replace delivered fuels and natural gas service for heating and cooling. The use of the technology could be expanded in the future based on the outcome of the project, Eversource said.

Investor-owned Eversource provides electric, gas and water service in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire.