Geothermal-Rich Idaho Aims to Remove Development Obstacles
February 4, 2011
By SCOTT STREATER of Greenwire: Idaho, sitting atop the nation’s third-largest geothermal resource, is working to ease development restrictions on prime state-owned lands with hopes of attracting new interest and investment in what is arguably the nation’s least-known renewable energy fuel.
Four bills being floated in the state Legislature would remove a 10-year expiration clause on geothermal leases to allow companies more time to develop projects, as well as remove restrictions on geothermal lease sizes and reduce royalty fees for power producers that have scared other developers away from the state.
The legislative package, written and sponsored by the Idaho Department of Lands with the support of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) and other top-ranking lawmakers, comes as the Gem State tries to stake its claim in the renewable energy boom that is sweeping across the Interior West.
“In order to get a company to come in, it’s just nearly impossible the way our law is now,” Rep. Bert Stevenson (R) told members of the House Resources and Conservation Committee last week, according to the Times-News in Twin Falls. “We’ve got to make these changes to encourage that geothermal development.”
The changes would apply only to Idaho’s 2 million acres of state endowment lands — parcels given to the state by the federal government when Idaho joined the Union in 1890. Those tracts are intended to produce revenue to support public schools and several public university and charity funds. Read more