The City of Raleigh is the state's only recipient of federal grants to promote geothermal energy.
Raleigh this week won a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The money will be used to build a geothermal air conditioning and heating system at a municipal solid waste facility planned to be built by 2011.
"Because we're getting this grant, it'll pay for itself in two years," said Frederick Battle, Raleigh's director of solid waste services. "After that it's all savings to us."
Raleigh will pitch in the rest of the cost to build the $2.6 million high-efficiency system that will cut energy costs by more than 30 percent.
The Department of Energy this week announced $338 million in stimulus funds to 123 projects in 39 states to develop geothermal energy.
Geothermal energy, sometimes called ground-source energy, is considered one of the most efficient ways to cool and heat a building. The system of underground pipes, fed by pumps and fans, does not require fossil fuel such as natural gas, propane or oil.
The system transfers energy to heat or cool air by circulating air underground or under water, where the temperature is stable year-round.
The geothermal system will cool the Wilders Grove Solid Waste Service Center in Southeast Raleigh. The system will circulate air through a series of 60 wells, approximately 300 feet deep.