- New Mexico lawmakers last week passed a measure to expand development of geothermal resources in the state, sending Senate Bill 223 to the desk of Gov. Susana Martinez (R).
- The law would shift development of geothermal away from the state's Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s Oil Conservation Division, over to the Energy Conservation and Management Division.
- Geothermal, which taps underground heat sources to generate power, is considered a baseload renewable resource because it is always available, and is seeing growth in the Western regions of the country where the resource is more common.
New Mexico only has one geothermal plant currently operating, a 4 MW project developed by Cyrq Energy, which could eventually be expanded to 10 MW. But the state wants to go further, and lawmakers in the House and Senate have both passed a measure to spur development.
The bill would give the Energy Conservation and Management Division the authority to put forth "regulations governing geothermal resources and provides for administrative penalties for violations, with appeals to district court," according to a synopsis. It also allows for actions in district court for water rights owners claiming damage from geothermal resource exploration, development, or production.
“New Mexico is rich in geothermal resources. My bill will help to simplify the development of this 'green' resource and encourage its use,” said Sen. Ron Griggs, who sponsored SB 223. "It is a good bill for New Mexico and opens the door for more economic development," he said, according to KRWG.com.
KRWG also reported the bill will remove requirements that a permit from a state engineer will no longer be necessary to develop geothermal resources under certain circumstances, including that no water can be diverted.