Geothermal Energy Offers Socioeconomic Benefits

According to a recent publication from the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), people and communities around the country stand to benefit economically from the development of the geothermal energy industry. “Geothermal plants provide long-term, stable, well-paying jobs, produce nearly zero air emissions and associated health impacts, and supply millions of dollars to local, state, and federal economies through decades of reliable, renewable, consistent energy production,” reports Alyssa Kagel, author of A Handbook on the Externalities, Employment, and Economics of Geothermal Energy.

To follow is the Background reprinted from the report: In 2004, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), in support of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Program, surveyed the existing U.S. based geothermal literature related to socioeconomics. Much of this information turned out to be old, incomplete, or inconsistent. In an effort to update and improve the available information, GEA produced two publications on the socioeconomics of geothermal energy: Factors Affecting Cost of Geothermal Power Development and Geothermal Industry Employment Survey Results and Analysis. However, even after these publications were released, GEA routinely received questions about the basic economic, social, and employment impacts related to geothermal energy. Drawing upon the existing GEA documents and additional sources, GEA has produced this Handbook on the Externalities, Employment, and Economics of Geothermal Energy to address these key questions. “Externalities,” including social and environmental effects, are costs or benefits attributable to activities that are not reflected in the price of the goods or services produced. This handbook is divided into five sections. Some of the most common questions related to geothermal costs and benefits will be answered in each, including: * I. Introduction: What is geothermal energy? How much geothermal energy is produced? What is geothermal potential? * II. Externalities: What are the environmental implications of geothermal development? Is geothermal development sustainable? * III. Employment: What types of jobs are created by the geothermal sector, and how long will they last? How many people currently work in the U.S. geothermal industry? * IV. Economic Impacts: What is the cost of geothermal power or of a geothermal facility? Does the price of geothermal power fluctuate? What is the total estimated geothermal contribution to the U.S. economy? * V. Case Study Analysis (Mammoth Pacific Power Plants): Did the construction of the geothermal power plants at Mammoth impact tourism? After several decades, how have the power facilities affected the community?
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