WASHINGTON, DC — In an effort to tap the geothermal resources of the western United States, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada announced a new Department of Energy (DOE) initiative to expand the production and use of energy generated from heat within the earth.

Called Geopowering the West, the new initiative is expected to bring geothermal electricity and geothermal heat to millions of homes and businesses in the West.

Richardson also announced the awarding of nearly $5 million in Energy Department grants to support the development of geothermal energy projects throughout the region. Over $4.8 million will be awarded for geothermal activities in Nevada, California, Texas, Utah, Idaho, and North Dakota. The funding will be used to provide technical assistance to support the design and testing of new geothermal technology.

“Geothermal is a clean, reliable, and renewable energy source available in all Western states; in fact, it is already a significant supplier of electricity in California, with additional resources in Nevada, Utah, and Hawaii,” said Richardson.

“We are confident that this initiative will help to increase the power produced by this existing resource and make it a major contributor to our clean energy mix.”

The initiative will be a partnership of organizations from both the private and public sectors, representing suppliers, users, and the environmental community. A draft action plan is available on the web at www.eren.gov/geopoweringthewest.