MURKOWSKI SPONSORS GEOTHERMAL ENERGY BILL
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today joined a bipartisan group of Senators in sponsoring a bill to advance geothermal energy development. The National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007 sets a national goal that America achieve 20 percent of its total electrical output from geothermal resources by 2030, sets an annual growth rate in the use of geothermal power and provides for research and development of geothermal resources.
“When you look at the potential for geothermal power, it only makes sense that we improve the technology and reduce the cost of tapping earth’s inexhaustible heat supplies to fuel electricity,” said Senator Murkowski. “Geothermal power offers the possibility of relatively inexpensive, domestic power without any carbon emissions. Chena Hot Springs successful use of geothermal energy demonstrates the potential for other Alaskan communities to also develop their geothermal resources.”
The bill, sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), requires that the Department of Energy fund new geothermal research; development; demonstration projects; expand funding for cost-shared drilling; develop a national geothermal exploration and research and information center; and improve and advance high-temperature drilling and instrumentation technologies for geothermal well construction.
The bill also requires that the federal government help with research to improve technologies to model reservoirs of hot water, to do stressing mapping and tracer development and to help with development and applications for a full range of geothermal technologies. The bill authorizes $75 million for work in FY ’08 and $110 million a year for the following four years. It also includes another $15 million next year and $25 million annually thereafter for the U.S. Geological Survey to complete a nationwide geothermal resource assessment, largely not done in Alaska.
The bill establishes a national geothermal initiative that requires the Secretary of Energy to carry out policies that:
•Complete a geothermal resource base assessment nationwide by 2010.
•Sustain an annual growth rate in the use of geothermal power, heat and heat pumps of at least 10 percent.
•Demonstrate state-of-the-art energy production from the “full range” of geothermal resources in the nation.
•Achieve new power or commercial heat production from geothermal resources in at least 25 States.
•And develop the technology to construct an engineered geothermal system power plant by not later than 2015.