Iceland leaders coming to Montana next month at Tester’s request

Iceland interested in state’s geothermal energy resources

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Government and business leaders from Iceland will visit Montana next month to explore the potential for geothermal power in the Treasure State and to share their expertise, Senator Jon Tester announced today.

Tester invited the delegation to Montana while working on the bipartisan National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007, which he cosponsored earlier this year.

Today Tester and his colleagues on the Senate Energy Committee heard expert testimony on the measure, which sets a goal for the U.S. to draw 20% of its energy from geothermal resources by the year 2030.

The President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, testified before the Committee, saying Icelandic banks and development companies want to help invest in American geothermal energy projects.  Tester today asked Grimsson about Iceland's interest in American projects and told him he looks forward to next month's visit to Montana.

Geothermal power, which comes from resources like hot springs, provides electricity to 27% of homes in Iceland.  It also heats nearly 90% of homes there.

"This ought to be a win-win partnership for Montana," Tester said. "We have the potential to be a world leader in geothermal power.  And Iceland—the world's leader in geothermal development—is interested in investing in our state.  This will bring more jobs, money and a stronger economy to Montana using a clean, reliable and abundant energy resource.  And it will continue to keep Montana at the forefront of America's energy future."

Seven leaders from Iceland will visit Helena on October 20, meeting with Tester and his staff, with officials from Governor Brian Schweitzer's office, and with several state agencies.  They will also meet with Montana energy developers to discuss possible agreements and to share their knowledge of geothermal energy.  On October 21, the delegation will visit a potential geothermal energy development site, most likely in Butte.

The delegates from Iceland scheduled to visit Montana include:

  • Dr.     Eyjolfur Arni Rafnsson, Board Member, Geysir Green Energy.
  • Audur     Nanna Baldvinsdottir, Marketing Director, Geysir Green Energy.
  • Magnus     Johannesson, CEO, Iceland     America     Energy.
  • Arni     Magnusson, Managing Director, Glitnir Bank.
  • Egill     Juliusson, Geothermal Reservoir Specialist, Glitnir Bank.
  • Holmfríður     Sigurdardottir, Project Manager, Reykjavik     Energy.
  • Hlynur     Gudjonsson, Trade Commissioner for North America,     Icelandic Consulate.

The National Geothermal Initiative Act sets aside $90 million next year for geothermal research, then $135 million per year through at least 2012.

The measure also requires the Department of the Interior to conduct a national inventory of geothermal resources.  And it requires the Department of Energy to prioritize research and funding for new technology to harness geothermal energy.

The National Geothermal Initiative Act is S.1543.  Full text of the legislation is available online here.