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Annual GEA geothermal summit begins next week in Reno

Staff report

The third annual National Geothermal Summit begins Wednesday for two days at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno to bring together industry leaders, government officials and other power sector representatives from the United States and abroad for critical discussions on what is needed to move geothermal forward.

“The GEA (Geothermal Energy Association) National Geothermal Summit will bring policy makers and industry professionals together to highlight the progress that geothermal energy has made, examine areas where problems exist, discuss relevant policy issues and learn from the different viewpoints of the leaders presenting at this Summit,” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. “There is so much potential for geothermal energy to become a major source of power. By facilitating dialogue about advances in technology, the effectiveness of public policies and more, we hope to enrich the potential for geothermal expansion.”

The event will cover the state of geothermal energy, new technologies, valuing geothermal and the future outlook for the geothermal industry. The program will encourage interaction and discussion about government policies, projects in development, market potential and opportunities for U.S. companies.

“Nevada is a leader in geothermal energy, and I am pleased that the Geothermal Energy Association will be holding this important event in Reno,” said Nevada Sen. Harry Reid. “Nevada’s economy and our future is strengthened when we take advantage of our abundant clean energy resources. I hope leaders in the geothermal and utility sectors will work together to find new and innovative ways to bring these resources to market, and I will continue to work to help ensure that Nevada remains the geothermal capital of the nation.”

Confirmed speakers to date include Ashley Carrigan, state director, Sen. Dean Heller’s Office; Karen Edson, vice president of Policy and Client Services, California ISO; Jon Wellinghoff, chairman, FERC; as well as representatives from Washington State Geothermal Working Group, Oregon Department of Energy, Utah Geological Survey, California Energy Commission, NV Energy, Bureau of Land Management, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Imperial Irrigation District and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company.

According to the GEA, Geothermal power presently supplies the world with approximately 11,800 MW of firm yet flexible electricity in 27 countries, on six continents, but the potential to use geothermal resources is even greater. With the technology available today and under development for the future, geothermal resources could supply more than 300,000 MW of power, while producing far fewer carbon emissions than from legacy sources.

According to the GEA, it recently released an updated Air Emissions Comparison and Externality Analysis showing geothermal energy provides significant benefits to public health and the environment as one of the least-polluting and most environmentally friendly forms of energy. The analysis found binary geothermal plants produce virtually no greenhouse gases and dry steam and flash geothermal plants put out only trace amounts of emissions.

GEA estimates geothermal provides approximately $88 million in externality benefits per year to California and $29 million to Nevadans by avoiding fossil fuel emissions.