Geothermal Regulatory Roadmap
The roadmapping initiative covers ten states, including California, Nevada, Hawai'i, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Montana, Colorado, and Texas. The roadmap is being developed at the federal and state levels, allowing for future expansion to the local (county) level. Development of the roadmap for four additional states (Washington, New Mexico, Arizona, and Wyoming) is underway for Fiscal Year 2014.
In 2011, the DOE Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) convened a Blue Ribbon Panel of industry experts. This group identified the need for more improvements in geothermal regulation, and recommended that DOE work toward a goal of a streamlined permitting process.
The second objective is to convene stakeholders to review the flowcharts, identifying potential issues, concerns, and overlaps in the current process, and then collectively to discuss and offer potential paths for improvements.
The end goal is to optimize and streamline the permitting process – which works toward the GTO goal of lowering geothermal risk and costs, a critical step in accelerating the development of additional geothermal power.
So, what is DOE’s role?... It is to facilitate the process to get all parties to the table. The Geothermal Regulatory Roadmapping initiative is an initial step in achieving that goal.
PART 1: Develop Regulatory Roadmap
The audience for these documents includes agencies and developers, as well as their subcontractors and attorneys, investors, policymakers, educators and all other interested parties.
- Enhance transparency and understanding for all stakeholders involved in the permitting process
- Facilitate communication between agencies
- Save agencies time in explaining permitting process to industry and to its own personnel
- Help in training new staff and in documenting procedures
- Serve as a model for states that have yet to develop geothermal permitting regulations
- Provide living documents for maintaining and communicating permitting processes, and for making forms and supporting information available.
- Research permitting regulations to develop first draft of flowcharts and supporting written documents
- Convene key permitting agency officials, industry personnel and stakeholders to review and comment on draft documents
- Integrate comments and updates into regulatory roadmap documents
PART 2: Identify Regulatory Concerns
In parallel with President Obama’s Executive Order to Improve Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects, DOE’s goals are to reduce the risk and cost for geothermal developers. The GRR Team has been holding workshops in each of the initial GRR project states to collect input on permitting concerns from agencies, industry, subcontractors, attorneys and other geothermal stakeholders. Meeting attendees have discussed these concerns and potential solutions at scheduled workshops. This information has been documented and was presented at a GRR Workshop in Reno, Nevada on October 2, where agency and industry personnel met to discuss potential next steps.
- Decrease project risk by reducing delays and costs and eliminating uncertainties
- Provide greater assurance to stakeholders that the project will conducted in a technically, environmentally, and socially responsible fashion
- Assemble key agency representatives (at all levels) and stakeholders to identify concerns, issues, overlaps, differences in implementation, and difficulties in the permitting process
- Engage with all stakeholders, including NGOs, in developing optimal solutions
- Facilitate collaboration among agencies to overcome issues and to optimize the regulatory process
PART 3: Conduct Analyses
- Central agency (aka Single Window) for project permitting (e.g. Hawaii/Alaska, BLM Pilot Offices)
- Cost recovery/processing fees (aka fee schedule) (e.g. oil and gas, transmission)
- Impacts of the implementation of categorical exclusions.
- Present examples of implemented best practices in each category
- Identify advantages and disadvantages of various suggested best practices in permitting
- Outline example costs and procedures for implementation of best practice
- For the NEPA analysis, collect and make publicly available data on completed geothermal and oil and gas NEPA analyses
The Roadmapping Team
The Geothermal Technologies Program has selected NREL analysts to lead the GRR Team in developing the geothermal regulatory roadmap and convening meetings of industry stakeholders. A number of subcontractors have been aiding in the efforts. For a complete list of GRR Team members and bios, see the GRR Team Bio sheet.
"GRR is a much needed tool for navigating the geothermal regulatory environment. It will go a long way towards facilitating more geothermal energy development."
"Please get this website out to as many agencies as possible for them to link directly to your websites – it’s a great tool!"
- Federal #1: May 3rd (Golden, CO)
- Federal #2: Jun 7th (Reno, NV)
- Alaska: Aug 9th, Aug 21st (Anchorage)
- California: Jun 14th, Jun 27th (Sacramento)
- Hawai'i: Jul 26th, Aug 7th (Honolulu)
- Idaho: Aug 23rd, Sep 4th (Boise)
- Montana: Sep 20th (Helena)
- Nevada: July 12th, July 24th (Reno)
- Oregon: Sep 13th, Sept 25th (Portland)
- Utah: Sheraton Sept 6th, Sept 18th (Salt Lake City)
- Colorado: March 6th (Golden)
- Quarterly Meeting: April 25
- (Denver, CO; 10:45-12:15 MT)
- Quarterly Meeting: June 26
- (Reno, NV; 10:00 a.m. PST)
- Texas: June 12th (Austin)
- Washington: April 16th (Olympia)
- New Mexico: May 14th (Santa Fe)