Environment News Service

AmeriScan: January 24, 2000

ENERGY DEPARTMENT SETS SIGHTS ON GEOTHERMAL ENERGY

WASHINGTON, DC, January 24, 2000 (ENS) - Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announced today an initiative to promote the development of geothermal energy. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) "GeoPowering the West" project sets a goal of providing as much as 10 percent of the Western states’ power supply from geothermal energy by 2020. Geothermal technology uses reservoirs of heat energy from beneath the Earth's surface to generate electricity and supply heating for residential and commercial buildings. "Geothermal power is a clean, reliable and renewable energy source available in all Western states," Richardson said. "In fact, it is already a significant supplier of electricity in California, with additional resources in Nevada, Utah and Hawaii." Geothermal plants in California now produce about 1,600 megawatts of power, supplying about seven percent of the state’s annual power needs.

Richardson also announced the awarding of $4.8 million in research grants for geothermal energy technology development projects in six Western states: California, Idaho, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas and Utah. "Geopowering the West" sets additional goals of supplying the electric power or heating needs of at least seven million homes with geopower by 2010, and doubling the number of states with geothermal electric power facilities to eight by 2006. The initiative will partner the public and private sectors, as well as Native Americans and the agricultural community. "We are confident that this initiative will help to increase the power produced by this existing resource and make it a major contributor to our clean energy mix," said Richardson. A draft action plan for "Geopowering the West" is available at: http://www.eren.doe.gov/geopoweringthewest/. Public comments on the plan will be accepted through April 30.

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