Geothermal Growing And Wind Power Gets Boost

Geothermal power plants turn heat from under the Earth into electricity. It's a way of making power with practically no pollution. And, according to a new report, there are more companies investing in this kind of energy. Mark Brush has this news spot, as well as information about stimulus money and wind farms.

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Geothermal power plants turn heat from under the Earth into electricity. It's a way of making power with practically no pollution. And, according to a new report, there are more companies investing in this kind of energy. Mark Brush has more:

The report was put out by the Geothermal Energy Association. They found the number of geothermal power plant projects being developed jumped by 46% compared to 2008.

They say the jump was driven by federal stimulus money. And some state laws that mandate that utilities provide a certain percentage of renewable power.

Karl Gawell is with the Geothermal Energy Association. He says, right now, there are specific places where these power plants work best.

"Well, the best reservoirs right now tend to be in the western United States. And in areas where the heat of the Earth actually comes closer to the surface of the Earth. But, you know, the potential is nationwide."

Gawell says we don't have good technology to find new heat reserves under the Earth. And, until we invest in better exploration technology, we won't know where to find these hot spots.

For The Environment Report, I'm Mark Brush.

2009 was a bumper year for new windmills. But Mark Brush reports, if it weren't for government money, it might have been a bad year:

Companies normally have to borrow money from banks or investors to build big wind projects. And money was tight last year.

But the government stepped in with Recovery Act spending. It led to enough new wind turbines to power about two and a half million homes.

Even with government spending, experts say there's still a lot of uncertainty in the wind business. The wind industry says the federal government should set mandatory goals for renewable energy. That way utilities will know what to expect over the long term.

Denise Bode is the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.

"That kind of assurance sends a signal to a utility that they need to diversify their portfolio. That it's in the public interest. And that gives them the support they need to go and make 20 and 30 year decisions. Right now, most utilities are making very short term decisions."

A lot of the growth that happened last year happened in states that required a certain percentage of their power come from renewable energy.

For The Environment Report, I'm Mark Brush.