Even as some governors move to effectively kill clean energy projects in their states, others seem to be embracing them. Idaho’ governor C.L. “Butch” Otter seems to be one such individual, having recently signed four bills into law that are expected to make geothermal leasing in the state easier than in previous years. The laws specifically target state-owned land under which geothermal sources are available, and remove what the governor calls unnecessary administrative barriers.
Otter was quoted as saying that “developing our geothermal resources has the exciting potential to provide a firm, reliable and ‘green’ source of alternative energy for Idaho.” He went on to stress that the Idaho should seek to balance energy independence while bringing in royalties and endowments for its coffers. To that end, House Bills 52, 53, 54 and 56 went into law on March 15.
House Bill 52 gives the Idaho Land Board the power to reach lease agreements up to 49 years, longer than previously allowed. House Bill 53 give the land board the ability to negotiate rent and royalty payments commensurate with the marketplace. House Bill 54 gives the land board the authority to remove the single 640-acre limit for a geothermal area, allowing new developers to potentially use thousands of acres for a project. House Bill 56 removes fixed bond amounts required, allowing the land board to set bonding levels for each level of development for a geothermal program.
Idaho has been increasing their renewable energy capacity in several sectors this year. We reported on a 23 megawatt geothermal power plant being built in southeastern Oregon that will provide energy to Idaho residents. As well, the state recently announced a 183 megawatt wind farm, further progressing Idaho’s green technology investments.
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