Renewable Energy: New Mexico Geothermal Energy Laws and Regulations

New Mexico classifies geothermal resources as "Mineral" if the fluid produced has a temperature greater than 250º F and as "Water" if the fluid produced has a temperature less than or equal to 250º F. The state claims ownership of geothermal resources when and where it holds the mineral rights. If the fluid produced is “mineral,” the resource is under the primary jurisdiction of the Energy Conservation and Management Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department for drilling. The Office of the State Engineer of New Mexico regulates the extraction of fresh water that is 250º F or less.

The State Environment Department, under the oversight of US EPA, Region 6, has regulatory authority over discharge permits of geothermal resources that have a temperature of equal or less than 250º F. Discharges of geothermal resources greater than 250º F are currently prohibited by the Energy Conservation and Management Division. The New Mexico State Land Office leases the lands of the state mineral estate (Battocletti 2005).

Geothermal fluid under 250º F is considered “water,” and the resource is under the primary responsibility of the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer in regards to drilling and permitting. New Mexico does not have comprehensive environmental review statutes. The state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires 20 percent renewable energy by 2020 for investor-owned utilities (IOUs), 10 percent for rural co-ops and municipality utilities.

         Draft Regulations

19-11-1 NMAC General
19-11-2 NMAC Permits
19-11-3 NMAC Hearings
19-11-4 NMAC Construction and Operation

 

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