If Idaho has the potential to power 650,000 homes with geothermal energy by 2025, why do they only have one operating geothermal plant? Because outdated laws and unwelcoming restrictions have developers running scared.
In an effort to make the state more attractive for potential developers, four bills have recently been introduced to the state Legislature under Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.
The bills would get rid of restrictions on the size of geothermal leases, while also reducing the 10-percent royalty fees that developers have been forced to pay in the past.
There is currently 2 million acres of land available for use by geothermal plants—all of which are endowment acres given to the state in 1890.
The majority of that land is in the southeast part of the state, which has an impressive amount of geothermal energy potential. In fact, if the state were to use the land, they would be ranked third in geothermal production—behind only California and Nevada.
While geothermal energy currently contributes less than 1 percent of domestic energy nationwide, it has the capacity for much, much more.
How much? According to the Interior Department, by 2025 geothermal energy on federal lands could power 10 million homes across the country.
If outdated laws can be remedied to support this potential, geothermal could actually become competitive with solar and wind energy. Here’s to hoping that happens.
Photo Credit: ThinkGeoEnergy via Flickr CC