Leading news: Nevada and California are Working to Advance Geothermal Energy

This post brings you news of geothermal energy in Nevada; the latest on geothermal bills in the U.S. Senate; Geothermal Day in California; a reminder that the GEA Honors deadline is this Friday; and opportunities from U.S. DOE, NREL and Southern Methodist University.

Basic Renewables map with layers_rev 01-08-15

Above: GEA’s annual National Geothermal Summit (June 3-4, 2015) will be in Nevada, which is an international leader in geothermal energy business and development. The image shows the combined renewable resources of GEA member NV Energy, a utility serving 1.3 million customers throughout Nevada. The company surpassed the renewable energy threshold of one gigawatt this past year, and as the map shows, the company draws from more geothermal sources than any other resource. For more on geothermal in Nevada, see the first story in this post.

Click below to read this week’s leading geothermal news.

*Industry, Political and Environmental Leaders to Speak at Geothermal Summit in Reno, a.k.a. the “Hub of Geothermal” in the West
*Geothermal Energy on the Table for Senate Committee Hearing May 19
*Geothermal Day Resolution Passes California Senate, Goes to Assembly
*Three New Bills Advance in California that Could Affect Geothermal Power
*Due This Friday: Nominations for GEA Honors 2015
*U.S. DOE Seeks Info for Geothermal Approaches to Validate Mineral Recovery
*NREL Seeking Laboratory Program Manager for Geothermal
*Southern Methodist University: Lab Ready for Geothermal, Oil, Gas Industry Discussions

Industry, Political and Environmental Leaders to Speak at Geothermal Summit in Reno, a.k.a. the “Hub of Geothermal” in the West
Reno, Nev. (May 12, 2015) – With many geothermal companies headquartered in Nevada, and the second largest geothermal generation portfolio in the U.S., leaders from Nevada’s energy market will join those from other states to discuss growing opportunities at the National Geothermal Summit. During this melding of the minds, key players in the geothermal industry will discuss the outlook for geothermal power in the Silver State and beyond under the theme: “Geothermal Policies as Stimulus for Economic Growth and Environmental Quality.”

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has worked hard to feature the movers and shakers on the agenda for the upcoming National Geothermal Summit. Attendees of the event scheduled June 3-4, 2015 at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev. will hear from Councilwoman Naomi Duerr, Reno City Council; Paul Thomsen, director, Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy; and, John Ruhs, acting state director, Bureau of Land Management Nevada State Office; among many other influential members of the sector.

“Nevada has been at the forefront in new geothermal development and continues to play an important role in moving the industry forward,” explained Paul Thomsen. “The National Geothermal Summit is held in our own backyard providing a forum for candid conversations with other influential players. This gives us the opportunity to discuss the challenges awaiting renewable development and the process for change stymieing future growth.”

Among the important topics on the agenda:

– The state of geothermal power today, leading companies and new developments
– How geothermal can help meet state and regional clean power needs
– Geothermal as a best fit a reliable utility power supply
– Case studies about the local economic benefits of geothermal energy
– The future role for geothermal energy and state climate mitigation plans
– Priorities for moving the geothermal industry forward in the west

The following speakers have also been confirmed to date: Supervisor Anthony Farrington, chair, Lake County Board of Supervisors; V. John White, executive director, CEERT; Carl Stills, energy manager, Imperial Irrigation District; Barry Dong, manager geothermal/biomass, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; Stacey Kusters, vice president of Renewable Energy & Origination, NV Energy; Elaine Sison-Lebrilla, senior project manager, Sacramento Municipal Utility District; Rachel Dahl, executive director, Churchill Economic Development Authority; Karl Gawell, Executive Director, GEA; Andy Horne, deputy county executive officer, Natural Resources Development, County of Imperial; Ben Matek, Industry Analyst, GEA; Michal Moore, Cornell expert on direct use; Jeff Deyette, asst. director, Energy Research and Analysis, Union of Concerned Scientists; Jay Nathwani, acting director, U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office; Randy Keller, director of development, Transmission and Land Assets, CalEnergy; Doug Glaspey, president, COO, and director, US Geothermal; Nick Goodman, CEO, Cyrq Energy; Video Keynote Address by Senator Dean Heller, Senator of Nevada; and Video Keynote Address by Senator Harry Reid, Senator of Nevada.

To register for the National Geothermal Summit, or for more information, please visit http://www.geo-energy.org/nationalgeothermalsummit/Main.aspx. Visit the Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1571209836491431/. Join the conversation on Twitter with #GEASummit2015. For sponsorship opportunities or to request press credentials, please contact Yasmin Romitti, 202 454 5263, yasmin@geo-energy.org.

About the Geothermal Energy Association: The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is a trade association comprised of U.S. companies that support the expanded use of geothermal energy and are developing geothermal resources worldwide for electrical power generation and direct-heat uses. For more information, please visit http://www.geo-energy.org.

Geothermal Energy on the Table for Senate Committee Hearing May 19
Looking to support the production of clean energy, create U.S. jobs and reduce carbon emissions, the Senate Energy Committee is considering a series of bills related to energy and has announced a May 19 hearing. Over a dozen bills will be discussed, including several on geothermal energy: S. 562, the Geothermal Exploration Opportunities (GEO) Act of 2015; S. 822, the Geothermal Production Expansion Act of 2015; S. 1026, the North American Alternative Fuels Act; and S. 1057 which also seeks to promote geothermal energy.

The Geothermal Exploration Opportunity Act, S.562, was introduced by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) earlier this year and and co-sponsored by Senator Jim Risch (R-ID). It seeks to streamline the federal exploration permitting, which has added months or years to developers’ timelines in the past, by creating a limited categorical exclusion for geothermal exploration activities on public lands. “The legislation will simplify the review process for initial exploration activities and give developers the tools they need to unleash Nevada’s abundant geothermal potential,” Senator Heller said.

S. 1057,The Geothermal Energy Opportunities (GEO) Act, introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) has several provisions that together “encourage geothermal energy production by breaking down barriers that prevent prospective geothermal projects from getting in the ground,” Senator Wyden stated. It features provisions that create “public-private partnerships to improve geothermal data and reduce drilling risk,” including a grant program for exploration drilling.

In a press briefing, Committee Chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski spoke about her focus on building a sweeping energy bill. She and ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) mean to make it a truly bipartisan effort: “We’ve done a lot of messaging around these parts of late, and I want to actually make some changes to our energy policy,” Murkowski is quoted in E&E News. “We haven’t done that since 2007; it’s way past time.” E&E adds, “[The package] may be most noteworthy for its absence of the most divisive issues, such as opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, which Murkowski has been advocating for years, or creating a nationwide renewable energy standard, which many Democrats have historically supported.”

Committee member James Risch (R-Idaho) said in a video statement: “The energy policy we pursue as a nation influences our quality of life and how America competes in the global economy. Idaho and the rest of America have a rich supply of natural resources. My own home state is owned two-thirds by the federal government – all public lands. I support legislation that protects our environment for future generations, while maintaining private property rights and keeping in mind the needs of local communities and industry.”

Geothermal Day Resolution Passes California Senate, Goes to Assembly
This week the California Senate passed Concurrent Resolution 48 [SCR 48] to declare May 2015 Geothermal Awareness Month and May 21, 2015 as Geothermal Awareness Day. The resolution now awaits Assembly action. The Geothermal Energy Association sent a letter of support for the Legislature’s action, which states:

By introducing this Resolution, Senator Hueso and Senator McGuire seek to recognize the importance of sustaining existing geothermal facilities in California as well as the value in promoting the development of new geothermal power in a state where this resource is abundant and still substantially untapped.

Geothermal energy is locally produced and boosts rural economies through jobs, royalties, tax payments and more. While in development, a geothermal power project will employ hundreds of individuals, especially during well drilling and construction. Furthermore, a geothermal facility will create substantial permanent employment. GEA estimates that a 50MW facility creates about 100 permanent, local jobs. We estimate that this is significantly more than an equivalent wind, photovoltaic or concentrating solar project.

Geothermal power benefits communities across the state. In the south, The Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative, a plan to save an important source of water and minerals in the state, can add up to 1,700 MW of low-impact, cost-competitive geothermal energy to the State’s power grid. In the north, geothermal companies work to sustain the production of The Geysers, maximizes the environmental and economic benefits of the resource for the benefit of Lake and Sonoma Counties as well as all Californians.

California has the potential to be a leading geothermal producer globally, with about 50%, estimated hydrothermal geothermal resource remaining to be developed. By growing this sector California has the potential to generate substantial amount of revenue for the State treasury. Over the course of 30 to 50 years an average 20 MW facility will pay nearly $6.3 to $11 million dollars in property taxes. Additionally In 2013, geothermal power producers paid $29 million dollars in annual property taxes, including $21 million dollars to the State of California.

Thank you for the opportunity to support SCR 48, recognizing geothermal energy’s importance to California, local economies, and achieving state and federal renewable and low carbon energy goals.

Three New Bills Advance in California that Could Affect Geothermal Power
Ben Matek, GEA staff–SB 350 passed Senate Environmental Committee 5-2 where it will be next heard in Appropriations on May 18th. This bill directs Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission to implement the RPS to obtain the target of generating 50% of total retail electricity sales from renewable energy resources by December 31, 2030. In addition, this bill would cut consumption of fuels in transportation and increase building efficiency. At the hearing, dozens of environmental groups, independent power producers, clean energy trade associations, and health groups came out to support the bill. This bill appears to be moving expediently and gaining substantial momentum after Governor Browns recent Executive Order to reduce emissions by 40 percent over 1990 levels by 2030.

Groups in opposition or that expressed neutrality opposed some finer details but not the overall concept of emissions reductions. For example, the petroleum groups were not against the clean energy portion of the bill but had issue with the transportation sections. Meanwhile, many of the utility groups worried the bill did not allow them a full range of options to reduce emissions but were not against emissions reductions. The utility groups saw the bill’s current framework as a costly and inflexible way to reduce emissions.

SB 180 also passed to Appropriations 5-2 but seems to be more controversial. SB 180 redefines “GHG emission performance standard” to mean permissible levels of emissions of GHG for peaking and nonpeaking generation of electricity. Furthermore, the bill would prohibit, a load-serving entity or a POU from entering into a new long-term financial commitment for peaking or nonpeaking generation unless the source of the generation complies with the applicable GHG emission performance standard as of July 1, 2017. Several GEA members and other influential organizations in California showed opposition to this bill including the Independent Energy Producers Association and several utility groups. SB 180 is scheduled for a hearing in Appropriations on May 18th.

Lastly, SB 286 which would expand the limit on Direct Access (DA) service for nonresidential customers of electrical investor-owned utilities (IOUs), passed to the Suspense File in California with zero “no” votes. This bill is supported by several geothermal independent power producers and could expand the market for geothermal power plants by letting new customers enter the direct access marketplace.

Due This Friday: Nominations for GEA Honors 2015
GEA is accepting entries until this Friday, May 15 for GEA Honors, our annual awards program. The purpose of GEA Honors is to recognize individuals and companies that have made significant contributions to the development of the geothermal industry. We encourage you to apply!

Nomination categories:
• Technological Advancement: awarded to an individual or company that has pioneered new ideas or innovative technology in the field of geothermal energy.
• Economic Development: awarded to an individual or company that has contributed to the development of local, regional or national markets through geothermal systems.
• Environmental Stewardship: awarded to an individual or company that has promoted environmental sustainability through the use of geothermal systems.
• Special Recognition: the GEA will additionally be accepting nominations for special recognition of an individual or company that has outstanding achievements in the geothermal energy industry.

To nominate an individual or company for outstanding achievement in 2014 and 2015 in consideration for the 2015 Honors, please fill out the application at http://geo-energy.org/events/GEA%20Honors%20Application2015.pdf. You may print it and email to yasmin@geo-energy.org or fax it to 202.454.5265.

U.S. DOE Seeks Info for Geothermal Approaches to Validate Mineral Recovery
The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking information that will help commercialization of Research-and-Development-phase geothermal mining technologies. A statement from DOE said, “Geothermal fluids may be a key pathway for providing access to strategic minerals and rare earth elements, many of which are imported to accommodate a growing U.S. demand for these commodities for a range of applications. In fact, the USGS reports that the United States relies on other countries for more than half of the domestic consumption of 43 minerals and is fully 100% import-reliant for 19 of these.”

The RFI focuses on the possibilities in three specific areas for pilot-scale geothermal extraction technologies. DOE states,

The first category will explore opportunities to conduct extensive engineering validation testing of technologies and processes that can efficiently and cost-effectively capture, concentrate, and/or purify high-value materials contained in geothermal fluids. This effort will focus on broadening the assessment of potential approaches that could be adapted from extractive industries in oil and gas, mining, and processes that utilize chemicals or resins to remove, purify, or process a material. Food processing, waste processing, and chemical preparations are examples of industries that could have applicable technologies transferrable to geothermal mineral extraction.

The second category will study approaches that leverage existing methods and those being considered for commercial applications in the geothermal and mining industries. These could include combined drilling technologies, rock stimulation technologies such as those used in enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), and mineral extraction technologies as currently applied in solution mining.

A third area of study will broaden understanding about the existence and concentration of the high-value materials in U.S. geothermal fluids or low-temperature process streams from other operations, such as oil and gas production. Information sought in this category could be site-specific or assess domestic mineral resources in geothermal and other produced fluids on a national scale.

The full RFI is available at https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/default.aspx, and responses are due June 8.

NREL Seeking Laboratory Program Manager for Geothermal
Via NREL–The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Laboratory is seeking a Laboratory Program Manager (LPM) for activities in support of the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO), within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), U. S. Department of Energy (DOE). This position reports administratively and programmatically to the NREL Associate Laboratory Director for Technology Program Development and Management and interacts with research centers and offices at NREL that have major roles in geothermal technology research, development, analysis and deployment. For Job Duties; Required Education and Experience; Required Knowledge, Skills and Attributes; and more visit http://www.rigzone.com/jobs/postings/837609/Laboratory_Program_Manager_Geothermal_Technologies.asp.

Southern Methodist University: Lab Ready for Geothermal, Oil, Gas Industry Discussions
Speakers have been announced for the SMU Geothermal Lab conference, “Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields” May 19 -20, 2015 in the SMU Campus in Dallas, Texas. The speaker lineup includes Holly Thomas and Tim Reinhardt of the DOE Geothermal Technology Office; James Wicklund of Credit Suisse; Clotilde Rossi di Schio of Turboden s.r.l.; Ravi Krishnamurthy of Blade Energy Partners; Matt Uddenburg of AltaRock Energy, Inc.; Alan Murphy of STW Water Process & Technologies and Kewen Li of Stanford University / China University of Geosciences.

Projects in the United States, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Peru will be discussed. Technology companies will highlight updates, and a water desalination demonstration trailer will be on-site.

The pre-conference workshop on Monday May 18th, “A Primer on Geothermal Energy Resources”, provides a focused introduction for those new to the geothermal and energy communities. The workshop is limited to the first 50 registrants to provide a classroom atmosphere with ample time for questions and answers. The class provides Four Continuing Education Credits and includes topics such as: Geologic introduction, Geothermal system characteristics, Types of and uses for geothermal, Energy efficiency and costs, Environmental aspects, Financial considerations and Differences between geothermal and oil & gas production.

For more information visit http://www.smu.edu/Dedman/Academics/Programs/GeothermalLab/Conference.


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