Alaska Statutes.
Title 38. Public Land
Chapter 5. Alaska Land Act
Section 181. Geothermal Resources.
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AS 38.05.181. Geothermal Resources.

(a) The commissioner may, under regulations adopted by the commissioner, grant prospecting permits and leases to a qualified person to explore for, develop, or use geothermal resources. When title to the surface parcel is held by a person other than the state, that person shall have a preferential right to a geothermal prospecting permit or lease for the area underlying the surface parcel. The surface owner must exercise the preference right within 30 days after receiving notice of the application for a permit, or by agreeing to meet the terms of a bid within 60 days after receiving notice of the acceptance of the bid for a lease.

(b) The commissioner may designate a geothermal area or portion of it a competitive geothermal area. A designation as a competitive geothermal area must be on the basis of substantial geologic indications of geothermal resources or on the basis of competitive interest in geothermal resources of the area.

(c) On state land that has not been declared a competitive geothermal area or withdrawn from geothermal prospecting, the commissioner may issue a prospecting permit to the first qualified applicant. The permit conveys an exclusive right, for a period of two years, to prospect for geothermal resources on state land included under the permit. The commissioner has discretion to renew the permit for an additional one-year term. A holder of a prospecting permit has the right, upon the showing of a discovery of geothermal resources in commercial quantities and the submission of a development plan acceptable to the commissioner, to convert the permit to a noncompetitive lease at a royalty rate under (g) of this section. The conversion privilege must be exercised not later than 30 days after the expiration of the permit. If the land included within the permit is designated a competitive geothermal area during the permit term, the permittee must apply for a noncompetitive lease within 30 days after notification of the designation or forfeit the conversion privileges and the exclusive right to prospect.

(d) On state land that is designated a competitive geothermal area and is not subject to an existing prospecting permit, the commissioner may issue geothermal leases to the highest bidder by competitive bidding procedures established by regulations adopted by the commissioner. At the discretion of the commissioner, competitive lease sales may be by oral or sealed bid, on the basis of a cash bonus, profit share, or royalty share.

(e) Prospecting permits and geothermal leases granted under this section must, except in the case of parcels subject to a preference right under (b) of this section, be issued for at least 40 acres but not more than 2,560 acres. A person may not own, or hold an interest in, geothermal leases covering more than 51,200 acres. However, geothermal leases in commercial production, individually or under a unit operation or well spacing or pooling arrangement, do not count against the acreage limitation. All prospecting permits and geothermal leases are subject to an annual rental, payable in advance, of $3 per acre. The rental for a year shall be credited against royalties accruing for that year.

(f) A geothermal lease shall be issued for a primary term of 10 years and may be renewed for an additional term of five years if the lessee is actively engaged in drilling operations. A geothermal lease is valid for the duration of commercial production. Beginning 20 years after the initiation of commercial production and at 10-year intervals thereafter, the commissioner may renegotiate the rentals and royalties due on a geothermal lease.

(g) Each geothermal lease shall be conditioned upon payment by the lessee of a royalty of not less than 10 percent but not more than 15 percent of the gross revenues derived from the production, sale, or use of geothermal resources under the lease. Royalties may be taken in kind rather than in value if the commissioner determines that taking in kind would be in the best interest of the state.

(h) Regulations adopted by the commissioner to implement this section shall be adopted in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act (AS 44.62).

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