RAPID/Geothermal/Idaho/Land Access

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Idaho Geothermal Land & Geothermal Resource Access(3-ID)

In order to develop geothermal resources in Idaho, developers must obtain a lease and any required easements to access state lands or encroachment permits to encroach on a state highway right-of-way. The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) administers trust land on behalf of the state, and regulates the development and use of all of the state’s geothermal resources. In some cases another state agency may have administrative authority over certain lands, however, the IDL will still be heavily involved during any processes related to geothermal resource development. For example, Idaho Departments of Fish and Game, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, and other agencies manage certain lands.

Geothermal Lease

The IDL issues geothermal leases in accordance with IAC 20.03.15. Geothermal leases are available through over-the-counter filing of applications to the IDL on a first come, first served basis. If the IDL receives two or more applications at the same time on the same day, it is considered a simultaneous filing and can only be resolved by competitive auction. If there is only one applicant for a particular tract, the process is non-competitive. If another party becomes interested in the parcel after public notice of an application, the IDL will conduct a competitive auction process and award the lease to the highest qualified bidder.

As part of the geothermal leasing process, the Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners must approve any state lease prior to issuance. See Idaho Constitution – Article IX, Section 8.

Land Use Permit

If the project involves exploration activities with no or low surface disturbance, the developer may apply for a Land Use Permit from the IDL. For example, developers could conduct seismic reflection under a valid Land Use Permit.

Term Easement

If the project requires new/modified access onto or access across state lands for project actives not covered under the geothermal lease, the developer must apply for a Term Easement by submitting an Application for Easement to the IDL. Term Easements are regulated under Idaho Code 58-603 and IDAPA20.03.08.

Encroachment Permit

If the project requires the addition, modification, relocation, or maintenance or removal of an encroachment on the state highway right-of-way, the developer must apply for an encroachment permit with the Idaho Transportation Department under IDAPA 39.03.42.

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

Idaho Federal

Leasing Agency: Idaho Department of Lands Bureau of Land Management
Competitive Land Leasing: Yes, if the Idaho Department of Lands receives two or more applications on the same day or if after a single applicant files an application for lease, another application is filed after the public notice period.
Noncompetitive Land Leasing: Yes, if the Idaho Department of Lands receives only one application and thereafter no other party files an application to lease the parcel.