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Drilling and Operating Geothermal Wells in California

Geothermal wells in California (except for wells on federal leases which are administered by the Bureau of Land Management are permitted, drilled, operated, and plugged and abandoned under requirements and procedures administered by the Geothermal Section of the Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources.

Before the Division can approve a Notice of Intention to Drill a Geothermal Resources Well (PDF), every operator must designate an agent who resides in California and serves as the company contact for all correspondence, including well permits. An individual operator may appoint himself or herself as agent. If an operator desires, more than one agent may be appointed, each for a designated area of the state.  In addition, any proposed well must demonstrate compliance with of the California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA (see below).

The Notice of Intention to Drill form must be filed, in duplicate, with the appropriate district office. Division approval must be received before drilling can begin. An individual indemnity or cash bond and drilling fees based on well type must accompany every Notice of Intention to Drill, unless a blanket bond has been filed previously.


Low-temperature, Temperature Gradient and Observation Wells
 1.Well depth 25 - 1,999 ft. $2,000
 2.Well depth 2,000 - 4,999 ft. $10,000
 3.Well depth 5,000 - 9,999 ft. $15,000
 4.Well depth 10,000 ft. or deeper$25,000
 5.Blanket Bond$100,000
High-temperature Wells
 1.A well to any depth $25,000
 2.Blanket bond$100,000


Low-temperature Wells
 1.Shallow (25-250 ft.) $25
 2.Intermediate (251-1,000 ft.)$200
 3.Deep (1,001 ft. or more) $500
 4.Injection well to any depth$500
Temperature-gradient (TG) Wells*
 1.Shallow (25-250 ft.) $25
 2.Shallow TG program up to 25 wells$200
 3.Intermediate (251-1,000 ft.)$200
 4.Intermediate TG program up to 5 wells$500
 5.Deep (1,001 ft. or more)$500

* Temperature-gradient wells must be abandoned within one year after completion

Observation Wells
 1.Shallow (25-250 ft.)$25
 2.Intermediate (251-1,000 ft.)$200
3.Deep (1,001 ft. or more)$500


High-temperature Wells
 1.Development well to any depth$500
 2.Injection well to any depth$500
3.Exploratory well to any depth$1,000


Additional information about permitting geothermal wells in California can be found by clicking on the following link:
If you have any questions, please contact the appropriate district office.

The following references and links are provided to assist new operators when drilling and operating geothermal wells in California.

These files are in Adobe Acrobat format. Acrobat Reader software is needed to read and print documents downloaded from this site. Free software may be downloaded from Adobe.

8. Required Data for Geothermal Injection Projects



Before the Division can approve a Notice of Intention to Drill a Geothermal Resources Well, the proposed geothermal project must demonstrate compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Statutes and Guidelines. The basic goal of the California Environmental Quality Act is to disclose to decision makers and the public the environmental impacts of proposed projects, identify and prevent environmental damage, to disclose agency decision making, to foster intergovernmental coordination in the review of projects, and to enhance public participation. CEQA applies to projects (PRC Section 21065) proposed to be undertaken or requiring approval by State and local government agencies. Where a project requires approvals from more than one public agency, CEQA requires one of these public agencies to serve as lead agency (PRC Section 21067). A lead agency must determine the appropriate environmental review and, if required, prepare the project environmental documentation under CEQA. The remaining permitting agencies function as responsible agencies (PRC Section 21069).

The Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources has been designated lead agency (PRC Section 3715.5) for all geothermal exploratory projects (PRC Section 21065.5) occurring on private and State lands in California. Under PRC Section 3715.5 the Division may delegate its lead agency responsibility to a county under prescribed requirements. Currently, Imperial County is the only county delegated this authority. For all other projects contact the local land use agency.

Additional information on CEQA can be found on DOGGR's CEQA Unit webpage.