25 Jun 2013

Energy Department Develops Regulatory Roadmap to Spur Geothermal Energy Development

U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. Department of Energy

The Energy Department issued a Geothermal Regulatory Roadmap that will help developers navigate regulatory requirements at every level of government to deploy geothermal energy projects. In partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service, the Energy Department enlisted the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to convene key federal, state, and local permitting officials, along with industry representatives, to identify potential opportunities for streamlining the efficient and responsible development of geothermal energy in the United States. This resource builds on the Energy Department’s broader efforts to diversify the nation’s energy portfolio and create clean energy jobs.

In an Energy Department report published in 2011, industry stakeholders identified the permitting timeline as one of the biggest barriers to increasing geothermal power plant development. The roadmap will help strengthen collaboration between federal and state agencies, speed the review of proposed projects, and implement steps that advance efficient and responsible evaluation. Streamlining the permitting process also helps lower development costs and reduces financial risk for utilities.

The roadmap includes distinct flowcharts that address all federal and state regulatory requirements for developing a geothermal resource —from land use and leasing plans, to drilling exploratory wells, to developing a geothermal power plant. Comprehensive federal and state regulatory process flowcharts have been completed for eight geothermal-rich states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah. The next states slated for review are Colorado and Texas.

The roadmap is now available, and also includes links to permit application forms, policies, and supporting documents. Permitting resources for the first tranche of states are now complete and available, and resources for Colorado and Texas will be available later this year.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. EERE supports innovative technologies that reduce both risk and costs of bringing geothermal power online. Learn more about the Department’s efforts to develop geothermal energy. Learn more about how the Obama Administration is cutting timelines and improving outcomes for federal permitting in this Report to the President.