Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Geothermal Wells Deeper Than 500 Feet

The Division of Mineral Resources regulates the drilling, construction, operation and plugging of geothermal wells drilled deeper than five hundred feet below the earth's surface, pursuant to Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) Article 23 (ECL §23-0305.14) and in accordance with 6NYCRR Part 550-559 of the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law. Any borehole drilled deeper than 500 feet for the purpose of installing a close-loop, open-loop, or standing column geoexchange heat pump system is included in this well category. Geothermal wells encompass wells for finding or producing hot water or steam, and for injecting fluids to recover heat from the surrounding geologic materials.

The Department's Division of Water (DOW) regulates geothermal wells up to 500 feet deep.

Geothermal Well Requirements

Geothermal well owners of wells deeper than 500 feet are subject to the same well permitting and reporting requirements as owners of other ECL Article 23-regulated wells. The Well Operator and Applicant Center webpage contains links to information on the Well Permit Application Process, well operator responsibilities, and related regulatory forms.

If you are unfamiliar with the ECL Article 23 permitting process and requirements, we encourage you to contact us for a pre-application discussion. In order to file an application, you will need to:

  • Complete and file a Registration to File Electronic Submissions Form and an Organizational Report, if not already on file. This will allow you to have access to our electronic application system, OGePermit, discussed below.
  • Use the permit fee calculator to determine the well permit fee required to be submitted with each application.
  • Use the financial security worksheet (PDF) (60 KB) to determine the total financial security required for your proposed well(s). This financial security is required to ensure appropriate well plugging and abandonment.
    • Note: Federal, state and local government agencies are exempt from permit fee and financial security requirements. In lieu of financial security, these entities must provide a letter to DEC at the time of permit application, stating that they understand that they are responsible for and will complete appropriate well plugging and abandonment, including surface restoration, in accordance with the applicable regulations and requirements.
  • Use OGePermit to fill out an electronic Application for Permit to Drill, Deepen, Plug Back or Convert. This electronic application system will help ensure that all necessary application materials are submitted and will help to expedite the processing of your application.
  • Electronically sign and submit OR print out, sign and mail a paper copy of the OGePermit Submissions Certificate to the appropriate Regional Minerals Resources Office, along with any necessary permit fee and/or financial security payments.

Depending on the location of your project and its proximity to environmental resources, additional permits or approvals may be required. DEC's Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) Mapper can help you preview your project location as it relates to many of these resources.

Please be aware that some geothermal projects may require additional federal, state, or local permits or approvals. As certain geothermal wells are considered EPA Class V injection wells, applicants for geothermal wells should contact the EPA Region 2 Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program to determine whether a UIC registration is required (links leaving DEC website).

Please contact the Bureau of Oil & Gas Permitting and Management in the Division's Albany office if you have any questions or comments regarding regulation of geothermal wells in New York.