ELKO – More than 50,000 acres northwest of Wells could be leased by the federal government for geothermal development this fall.
The Bureau of Land Management currently oversees 18 operating geothermal power plants, for a total generating capability of nearly 500 megawatts.
The agency’s Elko District is making available for public review an Environmental Assessment for 24 parcels of public land nominated for lease in a September 2019 Competitive Geothermal Lease Sale. These parcels have the potential for future geothermal exploration and development.
The 15-day public review period began June 24 and concludes July 8. The BLM will hold the lease sale online at www.energynet.com.
“In keeping with the Administration’s goal of strengthening America’s energy security, the BLM supports an all-of-the-above energy plan that includes oil and gas, coal, hydroelectric, and renewable sources such as wind, geothermal, and solar – all of which can be developed on public lands,” stated a release from the agency.
An additional environmental review will take place during processing of any geothermal drilling permit applications, during which site-specific conditions of approval will be placed on the permit in addition to the stipulations attached to the lease.
Geothermal leases are for an initial 10-year period with the opportunity to extend if diligent exploration and development occur.
The leases generate more than $12 million in federal royalties each year. Fifty percent of the funds collected as bids, rent and royalties are disbursed to the state, 25 percent to the county where the lease is located and 25 percent to the U.S. Treasury.