What the Mid-term Elections Mean for Geothermal Energy

The results from the 2010 midterm elections show a positive outlook for geothermal energy. Both at the federal and state levels, there will be continued support for the policies and programs needed to expand geothermal production in the United States.

Republicans taking control of the House will likely increase support for action on extending tax credits – a top priority for the geothermal industry. The House Republicans energy blueprint, the American Energy Act, proposes making the renewable production tax credit permanent, which is important for continued growth.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed similar legislation in a previous Congress. The on-again, off-again history of renewable tax incentives undermines investment in new geothermal projects and their supporting manufacturing, drilling, and construction industries. In addition, the new House of Representatives is anticipated to provide strong oversight of agency processes and support streamlining of areas of persistent bureaucratic delay. Reducing bureaucratic delays can only help move new geothermal projects forward.  

In both the House and Senate, key geothermal supporters won re-election, several by significant margins.  We believe this reflects that their efforts to support more clean, domestic geothermal power production were recognized by their constituents.

At the state level, the election results also brought positive developments.  In California voters rejected Proposition 23—which would have suspended the state’s historical climate law.  Not only does this demonstrate public support for action on climate change, but it means there will be a strong market for clean, reliable geothermal power in California where geothermal continues to be the leading renewable power provider. 


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Karl has been the Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association since 1997. He was formerly Director of Government Affairs for the American Wind Energy Association and has held senior positions at the National Wildlife Federation and The Wilderness Society. He worked in several positions in the U.S. Congress, including Associate Staff of the House Appropriations Committee and Legislative Assistant to Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn).

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