September 15, 2010

Wyden, Crapo Bill Levels Playing Field for Geothermal

Amends Tax Credit to Bring Geothermal Energy Technology on Par with Solar and Fuel Cell; Boost Investment

Washington, D.C. - In an effort to increase energy production from renewable sources, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), introduced the Geothermal Energy Investment Act of 2010 to increase investment in geothermal power facilities and technologies and give producers the ability to compete with other renewable energy resources, like solar, on an equitable basis. The legislation amends an existing tax credit to bring geothermal power more on par with other renewable energy sources.

"When it comes to the tax code, not all renewable energy sources are created equal. That needs to change for the U.S. to make use of all of its potential energy resources," Wyden said. "This bill levels the playing field for geothermal energy to reduce the financial barrier holding back this important resource so that the market can decide which technologies work and which don't. It will boost investment and create jobs in Oregon and anywhere geothermal power can be utilized."

"Tax treatment for those investing in geothermal energy technologies must be on par with that of similar renewable sources such as solar power and fuel cell technologies," said Crapo. "Idaho has received world-wide attention for the municipal use of geothermal heat and for our many geothermal sources throughout the state. Geothermal saves tax dollars and energy costs in the long term and we must continue to expand our energy portfolio to incentivize the use of alternative and renewable energy sources like geothermal."

Many renewable energy technologies have been provided Federal tax credits to offset start up costs. The investment tax credit for geothermal power investment is lower than other renewables making it more costly to develop the technology and conduct the exploration needed to make it competitive. To date, the U.S. has underutilized the high geothermal capacity available, mostly due to the high initial cost of the technology and the risk involved in locating and developing geothermal sources.

The Geothermal Energy Investment Act of 2010 will raise the Federal tax credit on geothermal energy investments through calendar year 2016 from 10 percent to the 30 percent currently available for solar and fuel cell technology investments to give producers the lead time needed to develop technology and explore geothermal locations. Geothermal energy facilities provide a continuous supply of renewable energy with minimal environmental impact.

An identical companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives.