BOSTON (CBS) – It takes research, perseverance and patience, but geothermal homeowners point to the many benefits of drawing heat from the earth.
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Neil and Martha Chayet own the Joseph Story house in Salem. It was built in 1811 by Joseph Story, the youngest U.S. Supreme Court Justice in history. The home is a national historic landmark. It is also geothermal.
Neil Chayet said this is basically a solar technology.
“It’s from the heat of the sun. The sun heats the earth to about 55 degrees, so even here in New England, if you go down below the frost line, it will be 50 degrees and I can get daily readings from the closed loop system,” he said.
In their front yard, the Chayets drilled seven 500-foot wells.
“I have not reviewed the impact of this winter’s 30-to-40 percent increase in electric rates. I’m kind of afraid to do that,” he said. “When electricity is reasonable, there is a 30-to-35 percent cost savings every year.”
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Solar electricity is taking hold in Massachusetts. Earlier this spring, the Baker administration announced it was more than half way to its goal of 1,600 megawatts by the year 2020.
Alicia Barton, CEO of the Masssachusetts Clean Energy Center, says if you look backwards, we’ve come a long way in a short amount of time.
“To give you a perspective, that amount of solar energy is roughly equivalent to the amount of electricity it would take to power 118,000 homes,” she said.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center holds Solar 101 forums in various cities and towns throughout the state.
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Elected officials at the state and federal levels have made the goal of reducing electricity costs a priority. The New England governors energy summit in April was long overdue, according to John Howat, senior energy analyst at the National Consumer Law Center in Boston.
“Right now, there really has been a breakdown in interstate planning for how to meet the growing demand,” he said.READ MORE: To Do List: Oktoberfest, Live Music, Fireworks, And Family Fun
Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy believes current electricty markets are not functioning in a way that benefits investment and innovation.
“It’s hard to argue when energy rates go up 30-to-40 percent in a year that there is not a crisis at hand,” he said.
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State Attorney General Maura Healey wants to see changes in the way electric companies lock in rates.
“I’d like a better process that is more close in time to the purchase, so we are maximizing the ability to obtain the lowest price possible for consumers,” she said.
Energy storage is being called the “holy grail” of the electric power industry and Massachusetts is working hard to take the lead.
The Baker administration recently launched a $10 million initiative to make energy storage a reality.
In May, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a $3,000 Powerwall Home Battery system that pairs up with solar panels. He wants to see a production plant in Nevada up-and-running within two years.
Ambri, an electric utility company in Cambridge, is developing liquid metal battery storage technology. CEO Phil Giudice says the game will change once energy storage takes hold.
“Right now, the challenge for the grid is to perfectly match the supply of electricity with the demand for electricity all the time and everywhere and this is a remarkable accomplishment, especially since the demand for electricity goes up and down during the course of a day,” he said.
Giudice says when it gets to the right price point, energy storage will be worth trillions of dollars.
Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts, urges people to get involved.
“Take an interest. It’s not someone else’s problem, it’s a problem for all of us,” she said, “And this is not a crisis, it’s a huge opportunity for us to finally get this right.”
This is Part 5 of Mary Blake’s week-long ‘Light’s On’ series on the state of energy in Massachusetts.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake reports: