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Western governors push for geothermal energy to be another boom in renewables

 A pipeline for geothermal energy.
Evah Nafilati
Flickr Creative Commons
A pipeline for geothermal energy.

News brief: 

Beyond heating hot springs and creating geysers at Yellowstone National Park, geothermal energy is an important source of renewable heat and electricity. And several governors in the Mountain West are pushing for more regional geothermal development.

At a recent annual meeting of the Western Governors Association, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis unveiled the latest report from the group’s Heat Beneath Our Feet initiative. It focuses on how to expand geothermal development in the region.

“It just so happens that all the geothermal activity is in the West. There's patches of it out east, but pretty much all of our states have enormous potential in this area,” he said.

In a panel discussion during the meeting, officials said more than 95 percent of the nation’s geothermal potential is in the West. It already powers a large chunk of downtown Boise, Idaho, and there are a couple dozen plants in Nevada.

But Polis said geothermal is still an untapped resource. The latest Heat Beneath Our Feet report found the resource could power about 28 million homes by 2050.

“It's abundant. It's American-made. It's secure. It’s domestic. It's getting to be lower and lower cost,” said Polis.

The next steps to expand geothermal energy include expediting permitting processes and improving transmission line capacity. Polis also called for reducing pollution risks from drilling, and collaborating more with tribes and other local communities that might be impacted by increased activity.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2023 Wyoming Public Radio. To see more, visit Wyoming Public Radio.

Will Walkey