New geothermal energy legislation in USA

In America’s renewable energy sector, geothermal energy has been much slower in developing itself compared to the solar power and wind energy industries. According to the U.S. Geothermal Energy Association there was 3,086 MW of installed geothermal energy in America in 2010. This pales in comparison to installed wind farm and solar energy. For example, as of June 2011 there was 42,432 MW of wind power in America.

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) applauded the Senate Energy Committee for moving the ball forward for geothermal energy by passing two important geothermal measures, S. 1142 and S. 1149.

"These two measures will support exploration drilling, expand geothermal research into heating uses, and expedite leasing and development," remarked GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell.

S. 1142, the Geothermal Exploration and Technology Act of 2011, is sponsored by Senators Tester, Reid, Murkowski and Begich. It has three major provisions: 1) it proposes a new federal loan program to promote exploratory geothermal drilling, along with the mapping and development of the nation’s substantial untapped geothermal potential; 2) it expands geothermal research into direct use and heat pump technologies; and 3) it facilitates the use of geothermal co-production by federal oil and gas leases.

S.1149, the Geothermal Production Expansion Act of 2011, is sponsored by Senators Wyden, Begich, Merkley, Crapo and Risch. It would modify the federal all-competitive leasing statue for geothermal to allow limited negotiated lease sales in circumstances where new discoveries have been made.

"These measures will help the geothermal industry continue to grow and support new jobs, the adoption of new technology, and expanded US exports," Gawell said. "The geothermal industry applauds the Senate Energy Committee for its work today."