The following is from the July 21, 2008, edition of U.S. News & World Report. Maria Richards, program coordinator for SMU's geothermal lab, provided expertise for this story.
By Kent Garber
In an energy speech last week in Washington, former Vice President Al Gore might have surprised a few people by identifying geothermal energy, along with wind and solar, as the one of the country's most promising alternative energy sources.
Wind and solar are the most familiar answers. Halcyon images of wind farms and solar panels set against azure skies have become recurring themes in newspaper and television ads in recent months.
But geothermal energy, which has been heralded by some scientists over the years as a rich untapped resource, has garnered much less attention, particularly from politicians. Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama rarely mention geothermal energy when campaigning—except, perhaps, when visiting Nevada. . .
This struggle is most obvious in the Bush administration's attempt, two years ago, to cut the Department of Energy's geothermal program. The impact is still being felt today. . .
The industry has also had to fight Congress to get the same types of incentives that helped spark interest in other renewable energies. For wind technology, production tax credits go back at least a decade. Geothermal didn't get a similar deal from the government until 2005. "These tax credits have a huge impact," says Maria Richards, program coordinator for Southern Methodist University's geothermal lab. "So many wind farms were created because the tax credit gave them a write-off. For geothermal, the credit seems like a small amount, but it really adds up."
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