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Catch up quick on geothermal

Feb 26, 2024
Illustration of a geothermal heat pump with a dollar overlay.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Geothermal power is getting some vocal backing on the Hill as the industry looks for money and permitting changes to scale up.

Why it matters: It's a battle of priorities as lawmakers try to finalize the fiscal 2024 spending bills — and geothermal might just get the support its advocates are seeking.

Driving the news: Sen. Alex Padilla and four other Democrats wrote to appropriators last week asking them to include $118 million for DOE's Geothermal Technologies Office in the final energy-water bill.

  • They say $100 million of that total should be earmarked to support enhanced geothermal systems, or EGS, demonstration projects.
  • That's in line with what the Senate included in its version of the bill.
  • The House bill also includes $100 million for EGS demonstrations, so it might just be a wish come true, despite the political grappling that's delayed the approps process four months already.

The big picture: Current DOE and water program spending expires Friday, and lawmakers don't appear close to a deal.

  • Republicans now privately expect a government shutdown, Axios' Juliegrace Brufke reported last week.

In other geothermal news, we've seen a couple of notable bill introductions recently that could juice the conversation around permitting (we wrote about that last year).

  • Rep. Young Kim introduced a bill — the HEATS Act — on Feb. 15 that would exempt some geothermal drilling projects on state and private land from federal permitting requirements.
  • Rep. John Curtis also has legislation to set deadlines for processing geothermal leases.
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