STEELEVILLE - A $50,000 GeoAlliance grant was recently awarded to Southern Illinois University Carbondale to help in funding the installation of a geothermal heat pump heating and cooling system in the Stone Center.

The grant program is funded by Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF) and administered by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC). Grant funding is passed down from the association to Illinois cooperatives, which re-grant it to qualifying members who receive electricity from them. The cooperative in this case was Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association (EECA) in Steeleville/Murphysboro.

The purpose of the grant program is to encourage the use of clean and efficient geothermal systems to heat and cool not-for-profit and public facilities that receive electric service from Illinois electric cooperatives. The grants are awarded for one third of the incremental difference between the cost of a traditional fossil heating and cooling system and a geothermal heating and cooling system up to a cap of $50,000 per installation.

Geothermal heat pump systems use the earth’s natural energy and that’s why they are so efficient and so inexpensive to operate. During cooling months, heat and humidity from inside a building is transferred into the earth through tubing in the ground. During the heating months the process is reversed. There is no combustion with a geothermal heating system, but a modest amount of electricity is used to operate the circulating pumps, fans, controls and compressor, which along with the heat exchangers are the major components of the geothermal heat pump.

“The ICECF appreciates the leadership of AIEC and Southern Illinois University Carbondale on this effort. The university will benefit from improved comfort in its new facility, lower operating and maintenance costs and reduced energy use, leading to less pollution in Illinois communities,” said Dennis O’Brien, Executive Director of ICECF. “At the same time, organizations like Southern Illinois University can offer their peers, and the wider commercial sector, proof of the energy and maintenance savings during a building’s lifecycle. These benefits far outweigh the initial capital investment for installing a geothermal system.”

ICECF invests in clean energy development and land preservation efforts throughout Illinois. Facilities not serviced by Illinois electric cooperatives can apply directly to ICECF for geothermal system funding. Information on the foundation’s other grant programs can be found on its website at

Bryce Cramer, Murphysboro and member services manager of Egyptian Electric Cooperative said, “As Southern Illinois University is a place of academia and research, this grant, as well as one received several years ago for the Library Storage Facility on McLafferty Road, show cases that geo-thermal heating and cooling systems are excellent choices for commercial applications. The data the university is gathering from a new facility (Library Storage) and now from a converted facility (Stone Center) will be used to show commercial building owners and operators in the private and governmental sectors that these systems are affordable, economical and provide excellent comfort for building occupants.”

SIU Carbondale Chancellor Rita Cheng underscored the University’s commitment to green initiatives and praised the GeoAlliance program for helping to work towards achieving that goal with the two grants it provided. She also said the program was a great educational tool for the students, faculty and local community.

Nancy McDonald, marketing administrator at the AIEC, is very pleased with the success of the GeoAlliance grant program. “Thus far, Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has provided $1.5 million for four phases of the program, which has funded 44 projects, such as the one at SIU Stone Center,” said McDonald. “The response has been overwhelming.”

GeoAlliance grant funding will be available until April 30, 2013, or until the funding has been depleted prior to that date. For more information about the GeoAlliance grant program, contact your local electric cooperative. You can also call Nancy McDonald at the AIEC at (217) 241-7954 or e-mail her at, or visit the association’s website at

. A list of application criteria and a downloadable grant application can be found on the website.

Information provided by University Communications at SIU Carbondale

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