Top 5 Reasons To Be Optimistic About Geothermal in the US

Joe Greco, Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) board chairman and Terra-Gen Power senior vice president, outlined the top five reasons to be optimistic about geothermal in the U.S. during his opening address at the Geothermal Resources Council 39th Annual Meeting and GEA Geothermal Energy Expo on Sept. 21.

1 The Production Tax Credit

First and foremost, Greco said, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee approved a potential extension of the production tax credit (PTC), which would extend PTC through 2016.

“If [your facility is] placed in service before 2016, you get the tax credit,” he said. “That’s great because it puts [geothermal] on a level playing field with other renewables.”

2 The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in late July passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 in an 18-4 vote.

If passed, the act would effectively set national goals and investment in geothermal technology development as well as expedite exploration, he said.

3 The California Renewable Portfolio Standard

The California legislature recently pass S.B. 350 to increase the state's renewable portfolio standard.

Unless vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which is not expected, “the RPS increases from where we are today at 23% to 50% by 2030, and it has given a huge market opportunity for geothermal,” Greco said, adding that the act would potentially expand the regional independent system operator, which would increase opportunities on the West Coast.

4 The FORGE Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technology Office’s Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) initiative is underway, he said, adding that there is “opportunity there.”

FORGE is a dedicated site for scientists and engineers to develop, test and accelerate breakthroughs in enhanced geothermal system technologies and techniques.

“Hopefully, the money that the DOE is going to spend [on the FORGE initiative] will help enhance technologies and research that will help overall in the industry,” he said.

5 The Clean Power Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently released final Clean Power Plan rule could open new markets for geothermal, according to Greco.

With the greenhouse gas reductions called for in the Clean Power Plan, there should be “further opportunities for base-load energy to supplement coal for those coal facilities that have to be shut down,” he said.

Lead image: Geothermal Energy Association Board Chairman Joe Greco. Credit: Renewable Energy World

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