House resolution would address geothermal technology

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State Rep. Joe Webster (D-Montgomery County) plans to introduce a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study on the feasibility of utilizing abandoned mining locations and operations as an alternative energy source.

In a memo to fellow House members, Webster said the state should initiate geothermal energy projects in communities near abandoned mines, developing a valuable energy resource and creating economic opportunities.

Retrofitting abandoned coal mines could create a need for technicians and engineers to build and service geothermal infrastructure.

“Since Pennsylvania has a rich history of mining and is now home to many abandoned mines, I believe we should investigate whether geothermal technology could be utilized as a meaningful resource in our former mining communities,” he said.

Webster gave an example of how geothermal technology can transform a community. Seaham, a former mining village located along the North Sea in the United Kingdom, retrofitted abandoned coal mines to utilize geothermal technology. Heat pumps increase the temperature of floodwater in the mines. The water is then piped into buildings to heat them.

Many communities throughout the UK are situated on abandoned coal mines. This creates the potential for numerous buildings to be heated via geothermal technology, Webster said.

Webster seeks sponsors for the resolution.