Lake Elizabeth Micro-Utility Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Lake Elizabeth Micro-Utility
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act – Geothermal Technologies Program: Ground Source Heat Pumps
Project Type / Topic 2 Topic Area 1: Technology Demonstration Projects
Project Type / Topic 3 Phase I – Feasibility Study and Engineering Design

Phase II – Installation and Commissioning of Equipment Phase III – Operation, Data Collection, and Marketing

Project Description The Micro-Utility is an integrated system of proprietary business methods and technologies that will provide affordable thermal energy to multiple end users on a billable basis. This project will demonstrate the application of this system to a standard geoexchange installation of ground loops and geothermal heat pumps. Geoexchange systems are proven, reliable, and extremely efficient. Often referred to as geothermal heating and cooling, or simply ‘geothermal’, considerable attention and research has been devoted to improving the technology. This includes components of the geothermal heat pumps themselves, as well as new drilling techniques, ground loop configurations and materials, various refrigerants, even the admixture compounds used to backfill and stabilize the loops. The dominant business model however, has received comparatively little attention. Like their progenitors in traditional HVAC, the value chain for geothermal products and services evolved to support a custom ‘one-off’ installation model. However, the economies of scale necessary to compete effectively against traditional actors in this space simply do not exist. Perennially disadvantaged by limited political support and even less public awareness, the geothermal industry survives in a small and highly fragmented niche. Fifty years after the first successful commercial installation U.S. market penetration remains well below 1%.

The site of this TDP will be the Lake Elizabeth condominiums, a new construction project to be built near the shore of its namesake located in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. With an estimated heating cooling load of 73 tons, a local business climate committed to building sustainable communities, this TDP site represents an excellent opportunity to showcase the Micro-Utility breakthrough.

State Wisconsin
Objectives Demonstrate the viability of theMicro-Utility™, a game-changing, transformative approach to the delivery of geoexchange systems and services.
Awardees (Company / Institution) SKYCHASER ENERGY, INC.
Awardee Website

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000116
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $325,124.00
Awardee Cost Share $325,000.00
Total Project Cost $650,124.00

Principal Investigator(s) Charles Isaac, Skychaser Energy, Inc.

Targets / Milestones - Demonstrate specific systems, methods, and apparata for overcoming existing barriers to the large-scale commercialization of geothermal heat pumps and related services in ways that are fully replicable and transferrable.

- Document project development in ways that allow for (a) capture of best practices, (b) incorporate findings from best practices into an online multimedia job training program, (c) promote the Micro-Utility as a vehicle for delivering affordable geothermal heating and cooling, (d) promote the Micro-Utility as a vehicle for raising public awareness of geoexchange technologies and benefits, (e) create a business case study for dissemination to industry, academia, and government, (f) demonstrate a cost-effective model for carbon reduction, renewable energy development, and reduced maintenance costs, (g) capture systems, methods, and apparata for subsequent licensing of the Micro-Utility business model.

Location of Project Twin Lakes, WI

Impacts Entrepreneur's approach to tackle GHP's first cost barrier with innovative financing and deployment model, where Micro-Utility owns ground and connecting loops, control mechanisms, hydronic pumps, sensors, and heat pumps. Creates a mechanism for recovering project costs in a timely manner.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs