Senate Bill Aims to Improve Geothermal Leasing


"Bill seeks to develop geothermal resources, create new jobs, revenue."

Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), James Risch (R-Idaho), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) are introducing the Geothermal Production Expansion Act of 2010 in an effort to improve the leasing and development process for geothermal energy projects.

The bill amends the Geothermal Steam Act to allow the Interior Department to issue geothermal leases for adjacent lands on a noncompetitive basis, based on fair-market value, and has a companion bill sponsored by Representative Jay Inslee in the House of Representatives.

In February, GEA Board member Doug Glaspey provided testimony for H.R. 3709 to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. He said: "The Geothermal Production Expansion Act. . .allows a developer [with] a geothermal resource the ability to assemble the whole resource so a power plant can be financed and built without exposing the project to the high cost of speculation and delays. We believe H.R. 3709 is an important policy [that] will accelerate the development of our geothermal resources, create new jobs and provide additional revenue for the United States treasury."

Glaspey outlined the following benefits:
  • Developers that have invested substantial capital and made high risk investments would be allowed to secure a discovery.
  • Development of the geothermal resource would accelerate the creation of drilling, construction, supply and operating jobs.
  • The financing capabilities of geothermal projects would increase.
  • All non-competitive leaseholders would be required to pay a market average "bonus" fee and thereby increase the short term fees paid to the federal government.
  • Increased development will provide higher revenue to the federal government with the payment of production royalties over decades.
"The hope is that with the strong senate leadership this proposal has behind it, Congress will be able to move on this legislation before it adjourns," said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell.

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