Geothermal Groups Collaborate on Guides for States to Meet EPA Standards

New geothermal industry guidance for Clean Power Plan compliance has been made available for five U.S. states.

The free state-by-state guides released by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), Geothermal Resources Council (GRC), and the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) examine the benefits and uses of three major types of geothermal applications – power generation, direct use and heat pumps – and cover Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, and Colorado.

According to the GEO, the guides are intended to give state regulators and the public information about geothermal energy uses in their states as decision-makers choose which forms of energy will be deployed to meet the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental regulations. States must adopt and submit their plans by Sept. 6.

“The guides we are providing will help overcome a major hurdle for geothermal – lack of recognition,” Karl Gawell, executive director, GEA, said in a statement. “We hope the states will recognize geothermal energy is part of the solution, and that each has potential it can tap.”

The GEO said that the amount of geothermal that will be added to the grid during this opportunity for clean energy growth depends on key western states deciding to implement their potential for geothermal energy development. For a handful of states with high geothermal potential, building just one or two new power plants would offset all their emissions reductions, according to the GEO.

“Geothermal can be an important part of state clean power plans, particularly when all of the benefits of firm and flexible geothermal provides are taken into account,” Ben Matek, GEA analyst and research projects manager, said.

Large-scale geothermal power plants directly employ an estimated 1.17 persons per MW, according to the guides. They account for nearly $6.3 to $11 million dollars in property taxes over the lifetime of the power plant and provide multiple benefits to the environment including lowered emissions and water consumption compared to other forms of baseload generation.

The GEO said that geothermal power projects currently are in development in Churchill, Washoe, Mineral and Lander Counties in Nevada and other locations in Western states.

In addition, the GEO said that geothermal heat pumps can operate efficiently at shallower depths and lower temperatures than power plants, making them available in any U.S. state or territory.

“Geothermal heat pumps can have a significant impact on fossil fuel consumption and are well-suited for states seeking to meet emissions reduction and renewable energy targets,” Doug Dougherty, GEO president and CEO, said.  “We encourage regulators to use these guides to better understand the role the entire spectrum of geothermal technology can have in their plans.”

Lead image: Compliance button. Credit: Shutterstock.

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