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What It Is: Geothermal In Action

Whitehawk Ranch - California

Whitehawk Ranch - California At an elevation of 4,500 feet in the southeastern section of the Mohawk Valley in California, the 956-acre Whitehawk Ranch is an exclusive setting for people who wish to live in the natural beauty of the area.

This planned development has been designed with rigid environmental specifications and the highest quality standards. The result is a planned development of 124 single-family home sites, 248 luxury town homes, 50 villa suites, 32 country estates, golf course and equestrian center which lends itself to the aesthetics of Mohawk Valley.

Whitehawk Ranch was designed with a sensitivity towards its "green" impact on the natural community. For example, the developers milled trees on site, then used them in the construction of the model town homes and sewage treatment plant. The bark was chipped and stored for future landscaping and the sawdust is used on the floors of the horse stables.

Extensive research was made into the most environmentally friendly choices for many aspects of Whitehawk Ranch - but none more thorough than the selection of a heating and cooling system.

During the planning and design of the town home project, Whitehawk Ranch analyzed the performance of propane gas furnaces, electric furnaces, air-to-air heat pumps and geothermal comfort systems according to aesthetic impact, safety and reliability, cost in terms of monthly fuel bills, and initial costs.

Projections indicate a total annual cost for heating of just under $300 for the geothermal heat pump systems.

J.B. "Buzz" McCann, General Manager, Whitehawk Ranch:

"In our next project, we would use geothermal again. The developer was very happy with the product. Our homeowners are very happy also. They find the comfort level acceptable and they're very happy with the overall performance of geothermal."

Paul Bony, Plumas-Sierra Electric Cooperative:

"When we did the design work for Whitehawk Ranch the modeling that we used predicted that their operating costs for their annual heating and cooling costs would be half of a conventional forced air propane system and air-conditioning.

We've had a winter that's probably going to end up 15 percent colder than normal and we're meeting our projections for normal winter so our customers are seeing savings in the range of $600 to $800 per year over what the next best system would have been."

Gene Kromer, Homeowner:

"I believe that the comfort that we're getting out of this geothermal unit is better than what we've gotten in our gas fired furnace in our previous home. I would certainly choose geothermal again."

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