Geothermal

Senate and House Actions Restore Geothermal Research Program

Both Senate and House Committees took action to restore funding for the Department of Energy’s geothermal research program, which the Administration’s budget had proposed to close. The Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee voted to restore full funding for the DOE geothermal research program in FY 2007, which now provides $22.5 million for geothermal research, similar to previous years.

“This is a victory for expanding clean energy production and achieving energy security,” commented Karl Gawell, Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA). “Geothermal energy is not a silver bullet,” he cautioned, “but it can be a large part of the answer to both the national security and environmental challenges posed by our past energy habits.” The House Science Committee also accepted an amendment that reiterates the obligation of the Department of Energy to undertake a geothermal research program in FY 2007 as directed by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The amendment was added to legislation that otherwise generally endorses the Administration’s new energy initiatives. According to the GEA, this level of production and new investment in geothermal energy would mean 130,000 new full time jobs and 500,000 person-years of construction and manufacturing employment. “Today, some 25 states use geothermal resources for power or direct use purposes, but they are tapping only a small fraction of the potential. With continued federal and state support we estimate that over 30,000 MW of geothermal power could be developed in the next 20 years, representing an investment in new domestic energy supplies of over $70 billion,” Gawell estimated.