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Get Support for Your Project


Create a Roadmap for Project Planning

If you’re interested in developing a Community Thermal Energy Network (CTEN) project, it will be important to not only assess the technical potential, but also ensure that key stakeholders are on board as well as address ownership and financial models. To begin the development of a district thermal system, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Identify key project stakeholders in the community and designate a marketing/outreach team
  2. Set long-term targets for low-carbon energy and GHG emissions reduction with stakeholders
  3. Build public awareness and support
  4. Conduct energy mapping to identify appropriate opportunities for the system
  5. Conduct person-to person surveys of potential cluster customers
  6. Determine how much a customer/building owner would pay to install an isolated system 
  7. Develop a conceptual design of the proposed CTEN
  8. Develop the energy cost to the customer from the CTEN
  9. Demonstrate the potential cost savings to the customer in comparison with self-generating cost and GHG reduction
  10. Identify appropriate ownership models for implementing the project
  11. Develop financing options for system implementation.

System Ownership and Financial Models

Project developers must consider the appropriate ownership model for CTENs. The ownership model chosen for a particular project falls on a continuum from wholly public to wholly private, but in most cases these projects typically involve public sector ownership in order to achieve specific local goals. This document [PDF] has a general summary of the use cases for funding models, noting that globally the wholly public model is most prevalent. For development in the US landscape, hybrid public-private business models might be more appropriate, given they require rates of return that can attract private investment, yet public sector interests are still represented in order to achieve goals such as energy affordability, carbon reductions, and equity/access. Additionally, this document contains case studies of various ownership models across the world. 

CTENs have been popular in other parts of the world. This document again provides examples of installations in Europe [PDF] and examines a variety of ownership models ranging from wholly private to wholly public as well as anywhere in between. The document clearly lays out the advantages of the public ownership models and private ownership models, and also provides some considerations that project developers must take into account when determining which business model is most appropriate for the project.

Additionally, there are a variety of financing models for these types of systems. MIT has an overview of a variety of financing models [PDF] and addresses barriers and funding gaps. 

Obtaining Organizational Buy-In

It will be important to identify key stakeholders and organizations, and project champions for community thermal projects. These projects have the potential to require buy-in from multiple organizations or stakeholders depending on how the project is structured. A key element of ensuring buy-in is clearly communicating costs and benefits of implementing a CTEN. Contact NYSERDA for individual support on getting organizational buy-in and check back soon for additional resources.

If a Community Thermal Energy Network Is Not a Viable Option

Individual buildings can also adopt ground source heat pumps to address heating and cooling needs on a building-by-building basis. NYSERDA can help connect stakeholders with a variety of options for ground source and air source heat pumps through the NYS Clean Heat Initiative Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..


NYSERDA can help provide funding for feasibility studies, engineering studies, and implementation. Ensure that you connect with NYSERDA staff to ensure you are exploring all possible resources for your community thermal project.


Access Services and Funding

Questions? Email [email protected]