Leading news: GEA Honors 2015 Award Winners for Technology, Economic and Environmental Advances Announced

This post brings you a wrap-up from our fifth annual National Geothermal Summit and our GEA Honors award winners; energy legislation advancing in the U.S. Senate; progressing world views on climate change; deadlines coming up for geothermal opportunities, and more.


Above: The infographic shows how much power Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) could provide in the U.S. alone: enough for more than 100 million homes! The Energy Department’s Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) is heading up an extensive research program to test the technologies in a permitted and drilled test field. The partnering groups include members of the Geothermal Energy Association. GEA members Geothermal Resources Group Inc., Baker Hughes, U.S. Geothermal Inc., AltaRock Energy, Inc., GeothermEx/Schlumberger, Coso Operating Company LLC and Ormat Technologies Inc. as well as numerous other public, private, research and educational organizations are involved in the program. See http://energy.gov/eere/articles/forge-next-frontier-renewable-energy.

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

*Geothermal the Best Choice that Still Needs More Attention, say Energy Stakeholders at GEA Summit 2015
*GEA Honors 2015 Award Winners for Technology, Economic and Environmental Advances Announced
*Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Legislation Unleashing Renewable Energy Potential on Public Lands
*S. 1407 Would Help Expand Geothermal and Lower Costs, Says GEA
*G7 Leaders Reach Carbon Phaseout Agreement
*U.S., Canada and Mexico Create New Climate Change Partnership
*1.2 Million Clean Job Opportunities Available in First Quarter of 2015
*Comments on Geothermal EIS for Jemez Mountains, NM, due June 12
*Bids for Domuyo Geothermal Project in Argentina due June 18
*Proposals for Geoscience BC, Direct-Use Geothermal in BC, due July 2

Geothermal the Best Choice that Still Needs More Attention, say Energy Stakeholders at GEA Summit 2015
At the Geothermal Energy Association’s fifth annual National Geothermal Summit, themes included the effects of regulations and incentives on industry potential and success; the performance of current geothermal power plants and their benefits to the changing energy grid; and the growing emphasis on climate change and what this means for the geothermal energy industry. The event kicked off June 3 with a reception and GEA Honors program and continued with a full day of keynotes, panel discussions, food and networking on June 4. The Summit hosted over 200 participants and attendees and was held at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada.

The GEA Honors awards recognize companies and individuals that have made significant contributions to the geothermal sector during the past year toward advancing technology, spurring economic development and protecting the environment. (See next story for full list of GEA Honors winners). Following winner announcements, the California Energy Commission posted an article and photo of Commissioner David Hothschild accepting the award for CEC’s Geothermal Grant and Loan Program from GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. The CEC was recognized as an outstanding example of a state program that advances environmental quality and economic growth through a sustained effort. Additionally, the Department of Energy posted an article about honorees and DOE partners Tom Edmunds and Pedro Sotorrio at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), who were recognized for their work advancing knowledge and research on flexible geothermal contracts.

Ann Robertson-Tait, Business Development Manager / Senior Geologist, GeothermEx, Inc. speaks at the GEA Honors awards program at the National Geothermal Summit.

That evening Gawell also appeared along with Enel Green Power representative and GEA Board member Terry Page on Reno’s KRNV News 4. Gawell said, “This is the fifth annual geothermal summit which brings together policymakers from federal local state governments and the geothermal industry to talk about how we move more geothermal projects and bring economic growth and clean energy and jobs to Nevada.” Page told News 4, “You know, Nevada is a good place to do business, it’s very business friendly. We have about four or five million dollars of investment in Nevada.”

The National Geothermal Summit is the leading forum for western state policy discussions, bringing together the geothermal industry for a dialogue with state and federal policy makers. Keynote remarks included a Video Address by Senator Dean Heller, Senator of Nevada and live remarks from Lucas Ingvoldstad, Energy and Public Lands Manager in Northern Nevada, Office of Senator Harry Reid; Commissioner Hochschild, California Energy Commission and John Ruhs, Acting State Director, Bureau of Land Management, Nevada. Industry trends point to Nevada and California’s continued leadership in geothermal development, with Ruhs noting Nevada is ranked first in BLM-issued leases & drilling permits for geothermal energy. Additional governmental personnel on the agenda included representatives from Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy and California ISO.

Left to right: Karl Gawell, Executive Director, Geothermal Energy Association; Lucas Ingvoldstad, Energy and Public Lands Manager in Northern Nevada, Office of Senator Harry Reid; John Ruhs, Acting State Director, Bureau of Land Management, Nevada; Commissioner Hochschild, California Energy Commission

Panel discussions focused on the issues and benefits of current and future geothermal practices in Western U.S. states. This included “values in meeting state and regional clean power needs,” “best ways forward for a reliable utility power supply” and “local economic benefits.” Utility speakers included representatives from Imperial Irrigation District, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, NV Energy and Sacramento Municipal Utility District. While every utility portfolio is unique, NV Energy considers geothermal the “backbone” of its renewables portfolio with 20 projects and over 480 MW of capacity in Nevada; but as VP of Renewable Energy & Origination Stacey Kusters remarked in her presentation, stakeholders must continue to work to improve cost-effectiveness.

Source: NV Energy

Company voices contributed the industry perspective as well with representatives from Ormat Technologies, Calpine Corporation, CalEnergy (Berkshire Hathaway Geothermal), US Geothermal, Cyrq Energy, AltaRock Energy and more. Data and analysis presented at the event show the geothermal industry can offer unique benefits and best practices for the U.S. energy grid moving forward. Governments where geothermal plants are located receive tax royalties that benefit local schools and programs. For example, Ken Speer, Assistant General Manager of Northern California Power Agency pointed out that for its geothermal operation at The Geysers, NCPA pays $1.2 million in property tax, $2.5 million in royalties, and Lake County where The Geysers is located ranked first in the nation for clean air by the American Lung Association for the third year in a row.

The Geothermal Energy Association looks forward to reconvening the industry at the GEA Geothermal Energy Expo in tandem with the GRC Annual Meeting on September 20-23 in Reno, Nevada.

GEA Honors 2015 Award Winners for Technology, Economic and Environmental Advances Announced
Press Release (Reno, Nev.) June 3–-At the opening of the National Geothermal Summit on June 3 the Geothermal Energy Association presented its Annual Honors Awards for advances supporting industry growth. GEA Honors 2015 recognize companies and individuals that have made significant contributions during the past year to advancing technology, spurring economic development and protecting the environment.

GEA Honors 2015 Awardees are:

Ormat Technologies, Inc.– Ormat continues to advance the frontier of geothermal power with the first fully dispatchable, flexible, geothermal power plant. Flexibility is becoming a very important area for the future of renewable power production. Ormat’s Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) power plant, which generates 38 MW on the Big Island of Hawaii, allows Hawaiian Electric Light Co. to operate up to 16 MW of PGV’s output on Automatic Generator Control (AGC), a first for the industry. Through analysis and in practice, Ormat has continually supported groundbreaking work for the geothermal industry, including value-added ancillary services like flexibility, that continue to support geothermal as the most capable renewable to meet tomorrow’s needs.

Enel Green Power North America, Inc. — Enel Green power continues its efforts to advance hybrid geothermal power systems. This company has pioneered conjoining geothermal systems with other renewable technologies – solar PV, concentrating solar, and biomass. The Stillwater Solar Geothermal Hybrid Project has an installed capacity of 26 MW and will generate around 40 million kWh of clean energy per year, enough to meet the needs of 15,000 American households as well as avoid the emission of more than 28,000 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. Additionally, the company is building a 5-MW biomass plant to boost the Cornia 2 geothermal plant’s 13-MW capacity in Castelnuovo Val di Cecina, Tuscany.

Cyrq Energy – Cyrq Energy completed the first utility scale geothermal project in New Mexico, placing a new state on the geothermal power map. In addition to bringing all the environmental benefits and values of geothermal power to a new state, this accomplishment will hopefully open many new doors for geothermal power in New Mexico.

Economic Development and Environmental Stewardship Awards

Senator Harry Reid — for a career of outstanding support for geothermal energy as a resource with many benefits to the State of Nevada and the United States. Senator Reid has been a steadfast advocate for renewable and geothermal resources. Since the start of the Senator’s career the geothermal industry has grown in Nevada from a nascent industry to becoming one of the global centers of geothermal innovation. Currently over 600 MW are online in the state and substantially more under development and Nevada is commonly considered one of the most ‘business friendly’ states to build a geothermal power project.

Senator Ben Hueso – for his efforts to advance geothermal energy and restoration of the Salton Sea. The Senator’s tireless advocacy for geothermal development bringing jobs, tax revenues, royalties, and clean energy to his district in Imperial Valley. His efforts have helped highlight how expanding geothermal power production in the Salton Sea can benefit the environment, public health and the local economy. The geothermal community greatly appreciates the Senator’s efforts to incorporate geothermal power as part of his career and legacy.

CEC Geothermal Grant and Loan Program — The California Energy Commission’s Geothermal Grant and Loan Program is an outstanding example of a state program that advances environmental quality and economic growth through a sustained effort supporting geothermal projects in California since the early 1980s. Also known as the GRDA Program, the funding for the program comes from royalties paid by geothermal developments on federal lands in California. Thirty percent of the geothermal royalty funds deposited in the state’s Geothermal Resources Development Account (GRDA) are given to the Energy Commission to provide grants and loans for a variety of geothermal planning, research, development and mitigation projects. Since this program’s inception it has made magnificent strides to support industry and local community needs for advances in geothermal energy. Many geothermal projects producing power or heat today are online because of funds cost-shared from this program.

Power Africa – for their support of expanded use of geothermal energy, particularly in East Africa, including their efforts to engage the US industry through the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) East Africa Geothermal Partnership. Other Power Africa agencies that have supported geothermal development in East Africa include DOE, NREL, USTDA, DOC, Ex-Im Bank and OPIC. At the moment, geothermal resources are being explored for or developed into power plants in nearly a dozen African countries often involving US companies. In GEA’s recent survey 18 companies reported having work in Kenya alone.

Special Recognition Awards

Doug Hollett, U.S. Department of Energy – for his leadership and vision in geothermal energy research and development. His hard work advancing research and knowledge of the geothermal sector started important industry research efforts now underway, such as Playfairway Analysis and the Geothermal Vision Study. In addition under his leadership, the GTO expanded its budget that demonstrates the credibility his efforts garnered in Washington.

Thomas Edmunds and Pedro Sotorrio, LLNL – for their work advancing knowledge and research on flexible geothermal contracts. In future electricity grids, not only will geothermal power have to provide baseload services, it will also need to provide flexible and ancillary services. Research published by Thomas and Pedro contributes to our understanding of this aspect of flexibility, and gives the geothermal industry a first look at what that future might look like. Their research is critical to the industry’s understanding of a flexible geothermal future.

Ernie Majer, LBNL—for his work advancing the understanding of seismicity and EGS systems. Ernie’s work has involved taking a leading role in the development or induced seismicity protocols by the Department of Energy. This has helped create a safe practices where now, geothermal plant seismicity is better understood due to having in place accepted protocols and practices to prevent seismicity. In addition he has contributed to extensive research advancing the industry’s knowledge about seismicity.

Jordan Macknick – for his work improving our understanding of geothermal water usage in a water constrained west. As climate change advances drought and water shortages across the Western United States, Jordan’s work has helped advance the industry’s knowledge on geothermal power’s role in this future and how the industry can help fit into a water constrained world.

Dan Getman, NREL for developing, in collaboration with the DOE Geothermal Technologies Office, the Geothermal Prospector mapping tool which provides an excellent data resource for visual exploration of geothermal resources using the tools and datasets required to produce and disseminate both exploration gap analysis and Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) planning and analysis. http://www.nrel.gov/gis/tools_gt_prospector.html

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. GEA advocates for public policies that will promote the development and utilization of geothermal resources, provides a forum for the industry to discuss issues and problems, encourages research and development to improve geothermal technologies, presents industry views to governmental organizations, provides assistance for the export of geothermal goods and services, compiles statistical data about the geothermal industry, and conducts education and outreach projects. For more information, please visit http://www.geo-energy.org.

S. 1407 Would Help Expand Geothermal and Lower Costs, Says GEA
On June 9 U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska held the fourth and final legislative hearing to receive testimony on 42 proposals that together constitute broad and bipartisan energy legislation intended to promote accountability and reform in America’s national energy policies. Video of the hearing and more information are available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Website (www.energy.senate.gov). Included in this hearing was the Heller-Heinrich PL Renewable Energy Development Act or S. 1407 for which the Geothermal Energy Association sent a letter of support. The letter is addressed to The Honorable Dean Heller, U.S. Senate and dated June 8, 2015:

Dear Senator Heller,

On behalf of the members of the Geothermal Energy Association I am writing to express our support for the geothermal provisions of S. 1407. This legislation would help expand geothermal power production and lower transaction costs by expediting NEPA processing for geothermal leases and projects on public lands.

In particular, S. 1407 would both direct and fund a new, supplemental Programmatic EIS for Geothermal leasing (PGEIS). Experience with the 2008 PGEIS shows this is an effective approach to allow leasing to move forward in a timely manner. Prior to the 2008 PGEIS, multi-year delays in actions on industry lease nominations were characteristic of the BLM’s geothermal program. For the two years following publication of the PGEIS, 230 of 271 lease applications were processed in by tiering to the PGEIS in typically a matter of weeks! But, that PGEIS needs updating to be effective. S. 1407 directs and funds the effort needed to do so.

One critical element behind these 2008 events was the decision by Congress under EPACT 2005 to provide dedicated funding for the BLM to meet its obligations under the new geothermal leasing laws. We believe it is particularly important that S. 1407 dedicates revenue to ensure that the agencies can continue to achieve their obligations under law.

Thank you for your efforts to support effective administration of geothermal leases and permits.

The letter is signed by Karl Gawell, Executive Director of the GEA.

Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Legislation Unleashing Renewable Energy Potential on Public Lands
Press Release (WASHINGTON, D.C.) June 5–Today, U.S. Congressmen Joe Heck (NV-03), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Mike Thompson (D-CA) Trent Franks (R-AZ), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation, the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2015, which aims to streamline the permitting process for wind, solar and geothermal development on public lands and establishes a revenue sharing mechanism that ensures a fair return for relevant stakeholders.

“Nevada is poised to be a world leader in renewable energy development,” said Congressman Heck. “And with more than 80% of our land owned by the federal government, Nevada has ample opportunities to develop renewable energy projects, especially projects utilizing solar and geothermal technology. That is why this bill is so important; it streamlines the permitting process for renewable energy projects and ensures that revenue generated for the federal government by these projects stays in Nevada. Public lands should benefit the public and this bill helps move us in that direction.”

“Renewable energy is an integral part of the United States’ all-of-the-above energy strategy and our nation’s public lands should play a critical role in facilitating development. Unfortunately, federal bureaucracy and outdated permitting processes continue to plague potential economic growth on public lands,” said Congressman Gosar. “This bill is a win-win for everyone and will establish a permitting process for federal lands that encourages production and is tailored to the unique characteristics of renewable energy projects.”

“This bill will streamline renewable energy projects on public lands which will help put Californians back to work and further support an all-the-above energy approach,” said Congressman Thompson. “By removing unnecessary red tape and putting a straightforward permitting process in place, we can spur job growth, grow our energy sector and support conservation.”

“Simplifying and streamlining the permitting process for renewable energy development on public lands is an easy step toward a more efficient government,” said Congressman Franks. “There is vast energy potential on these lands and we must do everything we can to harness it. This bill is a job-creator and I’m happy to support it with my colleagues.”

“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing a forward-thinking bipartisan bill that would streamline antiquated regulatory processes that are impeding the development of renewable energies on public lands,” said Congressman Polis “Incentivizing private investment in clean energy projects on public lands will save taxpayer dollars, create skilled jobs, secure our nation’s energy future and promote environmental health.”

“This bipartisan bill will make a real difference here in our desert by streamlining renewable energy development on public lands and putting in place revenue sharing that could fund Salton Sea restoration and development,” said Dr. Ruiz. “We need pragmatic solutions to advance our energy independence and help preserve our national treasures for generations to come.”


The version of this bill introduced in the 113th Congress had 61 cosponsors and was also supported by 60+ organizations including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, NACo, the Western Governors’ Association, as well as numerous counties, sportsmen and local conservation groups.

In addition, the Geothermal Energy Association and Ormat Technologies have already signed on in support of the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2015.

Senators Dean Heller (R-NV), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the Senate companion of this bill on May 21, 2015.

The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act establishes a revenue sharing mechanism that ensures a fair return for relevant stakeholders. distributes certain revenues derived through this Act by returning 25% to the state where development takes place, 25% to the counties of origin, 15% is directed for the purposes of more efficiently processing permit applications and reducing the backlog of renewable energy permits, and 35% is deposited into a fund for sportsmen and conservation purposes, including increasing access and outdoor recreation like hunting and fishing.

Due to the fact that federal lands are not taxable, state and local governments receive a share of the revenues from the sales of energy production on lands within their borders. These resources help local governments deliver critical services and develop much-needed capital improvement projects, such as road maintenance, public safety and law enforcement.
Notable changes to the bill since last Congress:

• Removes the outdated pilot program provision. The new permit language is modeled after the oil and gas permitting pilot program established by Sec. 345 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and modernized last December by the bipartisan BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014.

• This Congress’ bill includes an important provision that makes clear counties will not be penalized by the revenue sharing provisions in the bill and that such payments to counties are in addition to PILT payments.

• Establishes Variance Areas, additional federal lands identified by the Secretary of Interior that are suitable for responsible renewable energy development.

• Requires interagency coordination as well as coordination with states, tribes and local governments.

Sponsors and Original Cosponsors in the 114th Congress (23): Paul Gosar*, Jared Polis*, Joe Heck*, Mike Thompson*, Trent Franks*, Raul Ruiz*, Dan Benishek, Tony Cardenas, Matt Cartwright, Kevin Cramer, Raul Grajalva, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Ann Kirkpatrick, Doug LaMalfa, Alan S. Lowenthal, Ben Lujan, James P. McGovern, Steve Pearce, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Mike Simpson, Kyrsten Sinema and Ryan Zinke.

G7 Leaders Reach Carbon Phaseout Agreement
At this week’s G7 Summit, held in Germany, leaders of the top industrialized nations (Germany, Britain, the U.S., Canada, Japan and Italy) reached an historic agreement to phase out the use of fossil fuels by the end of the century. “We commit to doing our part to achieve a low-carbon global economy in the long-term, including developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050, and invite all countries to join us in this endeavor,” according to an official statement.

The United Nations’ climate-change panel IPCC recommended reducing emissions on a range of between 40% and 70% by 2050. “We want binding regulations,” said German chancellor and host of the Summit, Angela Merkel. Merkel told press the countries are committed to raising $100bn (£65bn) in annual climate financing by 2020 from public and private sources and will look to curb global warming at an average increase of 2°C (3.6°F) in global temperatures from 1990 levels.

National Journal called it “one of the boldest declarations yet in the fight against climate change.” Discussions on the road to achieving these goals will continue at a Paris conference later this year.

U.S., Canada and Mexico Create New Climate Change Partnership
Via Sustainable Energy Coalition/SUN DAY Campaign and Reuters–North American energy ministers have set up a working group on climate change and energy, a partnership designed to help Canada, the U.S., and Mexico harmonize policies. The partnership does not include binding targets, but will enhance cooperation and integrate more climate change-related policies into energy discussions among the countries. All three governments said they will prioritize working together on issues, including efficiency of electricity grids, pursuing new clean energy technologies and aligning regulations to control emissions from the oil and gas sector. The agreement would also enhance cooperation on technologies to capture and bury greenhouse gas emissions underground.

1.2 Million Clean Job Opportunities Available in First Quarter of 2015
Via Sustainable Energy Coalition/SUN DAY Campaign and Associated Press–According to Ecotech Institute’s “Clean Jobs Index,” more than one million green energy jobs were posted across the nation in the first quarter of 2015. The Clean Jobs Index classifies clean energy jobs based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics description, which says that clean jobs are jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. The classification also includes jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources. Top Three States with the Most Clean Jobs Openings are: California – 131,215 job openings, Texas – 90,281 job openings, and New York – 71,748 job openings. The states with the most clean jobs per 100,000 people are: 1. North Dakota 2. Iowa 3. Rhode Island 4. Colorado 5. Wyoming 6. Idaho 7. Illinois 8. Ohio 9. Indiana 10. South Dakota.

Comments on Geothermal EIS for Jemez Mountains, NM, due June 12
The U.S. Forest Service has launched a process to determine potential sites for utility-scale geothermal development in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico. The Bureau of Land Management is in charge of the geothermal leases and the Santa Fe National Forest determines what areas can be leased. The Santa Fe National Forest is preparing an environmental assessment about the potential impacts of leasing the land for geothermal development. The EIS will include public comments received by the Forest Service through June 12. Public comments on geothermal leasing in the Jemez Mountains can be faxed, emailed or mailed to the Santa Fe National Forest. Written comments may be sent via email to comments-southwestern-santafe@fs.fed.us; via fax to 505-438-5390, or via postal service to: Geothermal EIS Project, Santa Fe National Forest, 11 Forest Lane, Santa Fe, N.M. 87508. santafenewmexican.com

Bids for Domuyo Geothermal Project in Argentina due June 18
The deadline for bids for the Domuyo geothermal project in the province of Neuquén, Argentina has been extended to Thursday June 18. The extension was granted at the request of various stakeholders. For the project, a total generation of about 100 MW is sought and the planned investment is 6 million. See http://www.energiaestrategica.com/se-extiende-plazo-de-licitacion-en-neuquen-por-pedido-de-empresas.

Proposals for Geoscience BC, Direct-Use Geothermal in BC, due July 2
Geoscience BC has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Direct-Use Geothermal Resources in British Columbia. According to Geoscience BC, this project “seeks to identify and evaluate direct-use geothermal energy opportunities for BC communities that have the potential to reduce green-house gas emissions or be economic development drivers” and is intended to be “the first step to giving communities and businesses in BC an understanding of what resources are available and how they may proceed to use them.”

Geoscience BC lists the objectives for this project: compile and interpret existing geoscience data sets useful for the evaluation of direct-use geothermal energy; identify regions and communities in British Columbia with potential for direct-use geothermal energy development; compile an inventory of current, planned and potential direct-use geothermal projects; identify economic development opportunities from direct-use geothermal energy; develop a procedural methodology that can be used by communities to assess direct-use geothermal energy opportunities; and provide recommendations for exploration of sites with high-potential of direct-use geothermal opportunities.

Proposals are due July 2. Contact Christa Pellett, Project Manager, Geoscience BC. Visit http://www.geosciencebc.com/s/RequestsforProposals.asp?ReportID=710521&_Type=Request-for-Proposals&_Title=Request-for-Proposals-Direct-Use-Geothermal-Resources-in-British-Columbia.

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