Several federal laws have been enacted to support the development, implementation, and/or use of geothermal energy.

The Geothermal Steam Act of 1970 (30 U.S.C. 1001) is the law that defined geothermal resources and authorized the Secretary of the Interior to issue leases for the development and utilization of geothermal resources on lands managed by the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Forest Service. Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is required to manage the impacts of geothermal on public lands.[1]

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed that revenue from geothermal electricity generation on Federal public lands would be shared, with 50% going to the State, 25% to the county, and 25% to the U.S. Treasury.[2]

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) (Public Law 110-140) aims to increase U.S. energy security, develop renewable energy production, and improve vehicle fuel economy. The “Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act of 2007” (sections 42 U.S.C. 17191-17204) covers geothermal energy including hydrothermal R&D, general geothermal systems R&D, enhanced geothermal systems R&D, and more.


The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (Public Law 116-260) amends many geothermal-related sections of the “Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act of 2007”, and mandates many new initiatives, as well as extends the renewable energy tax credit for geothermal heat pumps, which now features a gradual step down in the credit value: 26% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2019 and before 01/01/2023; and 22% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2022 and before 01/01/2024. [3]

In December 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14057, which directs the federal government to use its scale and procurement power to support the growth of America’s clean energy and clean technology industries, while accelerating progress toward achieving a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035. Part of the broader Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), Executive Order 14057: Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability, and its accompanying Federal Sustainability Plan, set out a comprehensive approach for the federal government to address the climate crisis in a way that fosters healthy and resilient communities, creates well-paying jobs, and makes the country more economically competitive. The executive order directs federal agencies to achieve these five goals:

  1. 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE) by 2030, at least half of which will be locally supplied clean energy to meet 24/7 demand;
  2. 100 percent zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027;
  3. Net-zero emissions from federal procurement no later than 2050, including a Buy Clean policy to promote use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions;
  4. A net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, including a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2032; and
  5. Net-zero emissions from overall federal operations by 2050, including a 65 percent emissions reduction by 2030. [4]

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will stand up 60 new DOE programs in the next five years, including 16 demonstration and 32 deployment programs, and expands funding for 12 existing Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment (RDD&D) programs. [5]


U.S. Department of Energy

The DOE Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) continues to foster the deployment of new technologies in geothermal through new initiatives, several of which are profiled below:

Community Geothermal Heating and Cooling Design and Deployment: This is a new Low-Temperature and Coproduced Resources initiative that will help communities implement technology that can reduce energy burden and fossil fuel dependence, increase grid resilience and stability, and improve environmental quality. The initiative also encourages innovative approaches to community-scale agricultural heating and cooling systems that use geothermal energy to address local energy scarcity and/or food security needs in underserved areas. Interested entities may join the Commercial Geothermal Teaming Partner list.[6]

Drilling Technology Demonstrations: This new Hydrothermal Resources initiative targets technology developments to provide significant improvements in drilling performance in commercial geothermal settings. In February 2022, the DOE announced up to $20 million in funding for the Drilling Demos initiative to lower the cost of developing geothermal energy by demonstrating faster drilling technologies, which can exceed 50% of a project’s total costs. – (DE-FOA-0002656) Closed June 3, 2022; selections expected in fall of 2022. [7]

Geothermal Energy from Oil and gas Demonstrated Engineering (GEODE): This new FY 2022 initiative seeks to establish a consortium that will leverage technical, physical, and workforce assets from the oil & gas (O&G) industry. Initial funding will form the GEODE Team. However,  in future years and subject to appropriations, GEODE will release periodic competitive solicitations for analysis, research, development, demonstration, and workforce efforts.[8]


Geothermal Tax Credit/Ground Source Heat Pump Tax Incentive: Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 48 provides an Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for certain energy-related investments. The incentive was enacted in 1978 and has been substantially modified over time. As of 2022, the Geothermal Federal Tax Credit allows a federal tax deduction of 26% of the cost of installing a geothermal heating and cooling system, as long as the system is installed on or before December 31st, 2023, with no limit on its value. This incentive is set to go down to 22% in 2023, and expire at the end of 2023, although it is likely that renewable energy advocates will lobby for an extension. Whether installed as part of new construction or the renovation of a home, the geothermal system is considered "installed" when the taxpayer moves into the structure.[9]

Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC): The renewable electricity production tax credit is a per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) tax credit for electricity generated using qualified energy resources. In April 2022, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published a notice that provides the inflation-adjustment factor and reference price for the calculation of renewable electricity production tax credits (PTCs) under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 45 for calendar year 2022, as well as the amount of the PTC for 2022 as adjusted for inflation. The PTC for electricity produced from geothermal energy increased from 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for 2021, to 2.6 cents per kWh for 2022. [10] [11]

Federal Geothermal Initiatives

The Database of State Incentives for Renewable and Efficiency (DSIRE) is a database that can be searched for the latest Federal renewable energy incentives and rebates.

State Geothermal Initiatives

At the state level, the most important laws are the State Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Goals which require electricity suppliers to incorporate a growing percentage of power generated from renewable sources into their energy mix. In addition, some states also have a “Clean Energy Standard” (CES), sources of energy that have zero carbon emissions. The difference between a RPS and a CES comes down to how a particular state defines what is a “renewable” versus a “clean” source of energy. Some “clean” energy sources may not be considered “renewable” and vice versa. A CES policy, in most cases, will include an RPS as part of the requirement. Since 2018, 15 states, two territories, and Washington, D.C., have passed legislation to increase or expand their renewable or clean energy targets.[12]

Many states also provide personal, corporate, sales or property tax incentives for renewable energy for which geothermal projects may qualify. The Database of State Incentives for Renewable and Efficiency (DSIRE) provides information on state-level incentives.

The National Conference of State Legislatures' Energy and Environment Legislation Tracking Database is a searchable database for information on renewable energy bills that have been introduced in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. For example, a keyword search for “Geothermal” and “All States” and “Year 2022” results in a total of 21 Bills from nine states. [13]

Updated June 2022 by Diane M Long