July 14, 2008
Washington, DC – Nevada Senator Harry Reid today led fellow senators Bingaman, Wyden, Murkowski, Tester, Craig, Akaka, and Crapo in sending the following letter to the Department of Energy regarding its recent Funding
Reid continues to leverage his position as majority leader to help
The text of the letter is below:
July 14, 2008
The Honorable Samuel Bodman
Secretary of Energy
Dear Secretary Bodman:
We write today regarding the Department of Energy’s recently announced solicitation for advanced geothermal energy technology and research projects. While we were pleased that the Department has finally issued the Funding Opportunity
Announcement, we are concerned that DOE’s solicitation does not comply with the direction provided by Title VI of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA, P.L. 110-140) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-161).
Over the past several years, DOE has illogically opposed most investment in our nation’s geothermal resources, taking every opportunity to either zero-out geothermal funding or gut the current congressionally-authorized program enacted by EISA. Recently, the Department has taken it upon itself to “refocus” the Geothermal Program, and spend all appropriated funding on enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) only. This was not Congress’s intent and this is the wrong direction for the Geothermal Program.
The advanced geothermal energy research program authorized by EISA was based on legislation that was crafted after hearings in both the Senate and House committees of jurisdiction and enjoyed strong bipartisan and bicameral support. As you may recall, on February 1st a bipartisan group of Senators sent you a letter expressing strong support for funding and immediate implementation of the programs in the geothermal energy subtitle of EISA.
EISA directs the DOE to undertake a broad and aggressive research program, and clearly specifies that research shall support not only EGS, but also hydrothermal geothermal and geothermal production from oil and gas fields and geopressured resources. Additionally, EISA established programs important to advancing and commercializing geothermal technologies, such as the Center for Geothermal Technology Transfer (Sec. 618), Geopowering America (Sec. 619), and an Educational Pilot Program (Sec. 620) – all of which are being ignored by DOE this year and in its FY 2009 budget.
Although the Administration hoped to disregard the authorization for geothermal technology research under EISA, Congress provided $20 million for geothermal research and deployment in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008. It is unacceptable that the DOE is now attempting to completely disregard the immediate need to develop the most accessible sources of clean geothermal energy and instead focus solely on EGS.
Contrary to the Department’s position that hydrothermal technologies are “mature,” the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has identified at least 30,000 megawatts (MW) of accessible shallow hydrothermal resources that have not been developed, and has estimated that there are 120,000 MW of unidentified shallow hydrothermal resources. However,
resources, Americans are paying heavily with rapidly rising energy bills and higher greenhouse gas emissions.
We strongly urge the Department to revise or supplement its Funding Opportunity Announcement for advanced geothermal energy technology, and implement the geothermal program as authorized and directed by EISA.
RenoBruce R. Thompson
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