The Geothermal Energy Association strongly approved the U.S. Senate’s recent passage of the Energy Bill, in spite of the controversy generated by the Senate’s decision pass the 2002 Energy bill rather than move forward with the latest version of the 2003 Bill. The bill is not yet law, but will move to conference committee later this summer.Washington, D.C. – August 13, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “We applaud the United States Senate for reaching a compromise and passing vital national energy legislation,” said Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association. “Senators Domenici (R-New Mexico) and Bingaman (D-New Mexico.) showed outstanding leadership in steering this legislation, which contains provisions vital to the growth of the geothermal power industry, through the sometimes treacherous waters of the U.S. Senate. “The U.S. faces future shortages of affordable electricity, and the incentives in this bill will help clean, renewable power fill a significant part of that gap,” Gawell said. Of particular importance to the geothermal industry are the tax provisions that expand the Production Tax Credit (PTC) to new geothermal power plants. This tax credit has been widely credited with fueling the dramatic expansion of the wind industry over the past decade. Under the Senate’s legislation, the PTC would be expanded to apply to new geothermal plants as well. “Today geothermal energy provides nearly 3,000 MW of clean, reliable power to consumers in the Western States. The Production Tax Credit will provide investors the incentive they need to develop much more,” GEA’s executive director said. According to the US Geologic Survey (USGS), there are significant undeveloped geothermal resources in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. “The USGS identified over 20,000 MW of clean geothermal power potential in those states 20 years ago, but investors have not had the incentive necessary to overcome the expense and risk involved in developing those systems,” Gawell said. In addition to the identified systems, the USGS estimated in 1978 that there could by an additional 72,000 to 127,000 MW in undiscovered systems in the Western States. “Tapping geothermal energy’s vast potential is essential to achieve healthier air and cleaner water in the West, and it will reduce the threat of global warming for the entire nation. This bill takes a big step in that direction,” Gawell added. The Geothermal industry also applauded the provisions of the bill that would create a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The bill’s provisions would require 10 percent of all electricity to come from renewable energy sources, like geothermal, by the year 2020. While several key geothermal states already have state-level RPS laws or requirements, the bill’s provisions would protect those important state efforts while opening a national market for renewable energy. “Senators Bingaman (D-New Mexico), Jeffords (I-Vermont) and Reid (D-Nevada) should be credited for their leadership and vision in securing a national RPS that will ensure a growing national market for clean, renewable power,” Gawell noted.