Skip navigation to main content.
NREL - National Renewable Energy Laboratory
About NRELEnergy AnalysisScience and TechnologyTechnology TransferTechnology DeploymentEnergy Systems Integration

Regulatory Policy Provisions for Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Regulatory policy provisions can help address legal and regulatory barriers to geothermal heating and cooling technology development. Barriers may include resource access, leasing requirements, the need to secure multiple permits, strict zoning codes, and mining and water rights issues.

Streamlining regulatory requirements will ensure minimal government disruptions in the development process, while developing standard project design and installation codes will ensure customer satisfaction. Creating a standardized process for evaluating project solicitations can expedite the process of obtaining project approval and ensure that proper exceptions are in place.

Policy Provision Description
Delineated Resource Ownership Clarifies ownership for geothermal resource areas that cross multiple property owners and ownership jurisdictions. Critical in areas where geothermal resource ownership is not clearly defined or geothermal resource ownership is not regulated as a traditional groundwater resource (e.g., some states define geothermal resources as mineral resources and regulate them as such).
Single-Agency Permitting Consolidates regulatory approval under a single governing body.
Standardized Leasing Practices Ensures a clear process for regulating resource access. Serves to minimize impacts of resource speculation through allowances for non-competitive leasing under specific circumstances where speculation is prevalent.
Standardized Permitting Process Defines permit requirements and ensures that regulatory agencies act on permit applications within an appropriate timeframe. Use when single-agency permitting is not feasible, i.e. when identifying lead agency to coordinate approvals.

Learn about other policy options.