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US Senate Passes Geothermal Production Expansion Act

On July 9, the Senate took up S.363, The Geothermal Production Expansion Act of 2013, and passed it without amendment by unanimous consent. The bill was sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and allows for non-competitive leasing on lands adjoining existing geothermal lands in some qualified instances.

Potentially developable geothermal land qualifies for this type of lease if: 

  1. The area of qualified federal land consists of not less than one acre and not more than 640 acres and is not already leased or nominated to be leased; 
  2. The qualified lessee has not previously received a noncompetitive lease in connection with the valid discovery for which data has been submitted; and 
  3. Sufficient technical data prepared by a qualified geothermal professional has been submitted by the qualified lessee to the applicable federal land management agency that would lead individuals who are experienced in the subject matter to believe that there is a valid discovery of geothermal resources on the land and that such thermal feature extends into the adjoining areas (congress.gov).

“This bill promotes clean energy development while protecting taxpayers,” Wyden told press. “I encourage my colleagues on the House side to pass this bill so geothermal developers can get development rights at fair market value without having to wait for lease nominations or speculators driving up the price of leases.”

“Geothermal energy is a reliable and renewable source of energy that has the potential to help move us to a cleaner energy future,” Merkley added. “We should be doing everything we can to boost production of innovative, affordable, and renewable domestic energy sources. I urge my House colleagues to take up and pass this bill.”

This article was originally published on GEA's Geothermal Energy Weekly and was republished with permission.

Lead image: Geothermal plant via Shutterstock

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Leslie is located in Washington DC at the Office of the Geothermal Energy Association and serves on the Renewable Energy World North America Conference and Expo committee.

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