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Identify Challenges to Local Development of Geothermal Electricity Generation

The second step in developing strong, effective geothermal policy is to identify challenges to local geothermal electricity generation development. Identify stakeholder concerns, regulatory hurdles, competitive markets, development capital, and transmission availability to increase your knowledge about the local geothermal market condition.

Increased Development Step 5 Implement Policies Step 4 Consider Policy Options Step 3 Evaluate Current Policy Step 2 Identify Challenges to Local Development Step 1 Assess the Local Industry and Resource Potential

Stakeholder Concerns

Conducting informal interviews with stakeholders on specific industry needs can reveal barriers that may not be obvious at first glance. Hosting outreach meetings and/or participating in industry research group meetings with stakeholders can help you gain specific knowledge on your area's geothermal electricity market in order to build relevant policy and successful development in your area.

Regulatory Hurdles

To ensure successful deployment of geothermal power, geothermal technology must be able to compete with other clean energy and traditional power technologies. Contact the primary regulators of wholesale power markets (e.g., the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or your public utilities commission) or your regional transmission/system operator to get detailed information on existing regulatory or market design policies that are likely to impact geothermal development.

Additionally, geothermal projects can require an extensive permitting process that can hinder development.

The permitting process varies significantly by state and locality. Consult relevant agencies such as the local Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office and state energy office to determine regulatory and permitting requirements in your location and whether or not an established geothermal permitting process exists.

Competitive Markets

Understanding existing power generation costs, as well as the costs and ability to develop alternative renewable energy resources in your area, will help you identify the potential value of geothermal energy and the required policy measures you need to implement in order to increase the competitiveness of geothermal power generation.

Development Capital

Geothermal power generation requires specific machinery, equipment, and financing or development capital. Learn about available financing for geothermal power projects by evaluating the prevalence of heavy industry in the region and its ability to dig deep wells. This will help you detect the ability of local businesses and laborers to participate in future geothermal power generation development, which will provide insight into the potential economic impacts from new policy within your area. 

Transmission Availability

Identifying the proximity of existing transmission lines to specific sites and the available capacity on these lines will dictate your transmission policy and investment needs. Check with your regional transmission operator, public utilities commission, or utility to get existing transmission maps and available capacity information.

Next, evaluate current policy.