Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is co-sponsoring the National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007, legislation aimed at advancing geothermal energy development with a national goal to achieve 20 percent of total electrical output from geothermal resources by 2030.
The bill, sponsored by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., requires that the U.S. 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 spur research and development to improve geothermal technologies.
The bill authorizes $75 million for work in fiscal 2008 and $110 million a year for the ensuing four years. It also provides 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.
Citing Alaska’s successful geothermal energy project at Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks, Murkowski said, “it only makes sense that we improve the technology and reduce the cost of tapping earth’s inexhaustible heat supplies to fuel electricity.”
“Geothermal power offers the possibility of relatively inexpensive, domestic power without any carbon emissions,” she added.
The Chena geothermal power plant, which came online in July 2006, was estimated to reduce the cost of power production in the semi-remote location from 30 cents per kilowatt-hour to less than 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.