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Sen. Murkowski Voices Support for Geothermal Energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today made the following comments on the Geothermal Exploration and Technology Act (S. 1142) during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

“Geothermal is one of our most promising sources of renewable energy,” Murkowski said. “This bill will spur investment in geothermal, further expanding its market share to allow the United States to remain a world leader in development of geothermal technology.”

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee took steps to aid research to expand geothermal energy production nationwide in both 2005 and 2007. This year’s legislation seeks to further expand geothermal energy from the roughly 2.2 gigawatts produced today, to as much as 100 gigawatts of electricity, which the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has suggested is possible in coming decades.

The bill would also establish a revolving loan program to help overcome the high costs associated with drilling geothermal exploration wells. The loan program would consist of a sliding scale cost-share formula designed to incentivize developers while protecting taxpayers from long-term losses.

“This bill is of particular interest to my home state of Alaska, since it will allow for co-leasing of geothermal production at the time that permits are issued for drilling of oil and gas wells,” Murkowski said. “This will make it easier for companies to generate the estimated 11,000 megawatts of power that could come from tapping the hot water produced during oil production through the use of generally low-temperature geothermal technology.”

Geothermal is unique in that it provides a steady stream of power, compared to the intermittent nature of other renewable resources.

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