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spacerDecember 2004, Issue No. 14


Happy 2005 from Larderello, Italy! Newsletter editor, Liz Battocletti, traveled to Larderello, Italy—the birthplace of geothermal electric power generation—in September 2004.
The editor with Antonio Fini, Director of
the Larderello Geothermal Museum
Liz Battocletti and Antonio Fini

Geothermal in the FY'05 appropriations bill
GeoPowering the West reviewed in 2004
Bodman selected to head DOE
National report calls for increasing government support of renewables
Geothermal Calendar of Events
Current Solicitations
National News
State Roundup

Alaska
American Samoa
Arizona
California
Colorado
Hawai'i
Idaho

Oregon
South Dakota
Texas
Utah
Washington
Wyoming


Geothermal in the FY'05 appropriations bill

On 8 December 2004, President Bush signed into law H.R. 4818, the "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005" which provides FY 2005 appropriations for nine of the 13 regular appropriations bills including those for the Departments of Energy (DOE) and Interior. Congress approved the FY'05 Omnibus Conference Report on 20 November.

The $388-billion omnibus budget bill provides $23.3 billion for DOE, with renewable energy resource programs receiving $389 million—$82 million for biomass and biofuels, $25.8 million for geothermal, $86 million for solar energy, and $42 million for wind. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grant, Loan Guarantee, and Loan Program (Section 9006 of the 2002 Farm Bill) was fully funded at $23 million.

In the conference language regarding geothermal activities, DOE is directed to maintain funding for Geopowering the West at current year levels, and university research at FY 2004 funding levels. The conference agreement includes six earmarks totaling $3.246 million:

  1. $500,000 for the Full Circle Project in Lake County, California;
  2. $1,000,000 for geothermal research at the University of Nevada-Reno;
  3. $500,000 for the Tuscarora Geothermal Project;
  4. $300,000 for the Klamath and Lake Counties Geothermal-Agricultural Industrial Park in Oregon;
  5. $750,000 for the Geothermal Mill Redevelopment project in Massachusetts; and
  6. $196,000 for the University of Texas Permian Basin Center for Energy and Economic Diversification for geothermal research.

Amounts listed are subject to a 0.8% across the board reduction.

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GeoPowering the West reviewed in 2004

DOE's GeoPowering the West (GPW) initiative underwent its first peer review in 2004. The review process used objective criteria and qualified independent peer reviewers to judge the merits, results, and effectiveness of the GPW program and its components.

While the peer reviewers considered individual projects, they also focused on the integrated GPW program as a whole, with an emphasis on applying information on program strengths, GeoPowering the West logo
weaknesses, and gaps and making recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the continuing GPW program.

As stated by the review team, “The recommendations of the Panel are intended, within the framework of the current climate for geothermal energy usage, to provide direction for the continuation of the GPW program. In particular we foresee this continuation to be in areas, and with focus, which will allow the GPW program to build from the excellent work accomplished to date, to increase the opportunities for future geothermal development.”

The GPW Peer Review outlined observations and conclusions in several areas regarding state working groups, the utility sector, stakeholder facilitation and support, and information products. Specific recommendations included:

  • Combining the State Energy Program awards and state working group activities to be the main focus of the program.
  • Holding annual coordination meetings of all GPW broad-based partners to ensure coordination and understanding of the program.
  • Designating the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as the lead organization for a coordinated GPW website. GPW funding should not be used for websites that duplicate the same information.
  • Linking to all GPW-funded websites from the NREL GPW site.
  • Designating NREL as the coordinator and clearinghouse for all GPW publications.
  • Requiring that all publications funded with GPW money are distributed electronically via the Internet at no cost.

A document will be published in 2005 that incorporates much of GPW's results.

For more information, contact Roger Hill, GPW Technical Director, Sandia National Laboratories, at rrhill@sandia.gov.

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Bodman selected to head DOE

President Bush has nominated Deputy Treasury Secretary Samuel W. Bodman to replace Spencer Abraham as the DOE head. Bodman "has shown himself to be a problem solver who knows how to set goals and knows how to reach them," Bush said in announcing the nomination on 10 December 2004.




Samuel W. Bodman speaks after his announcement by President George W. Bush

(Photo courtesy the White House)

Bodman, 66, is a financier and executive by trade and an engineer by training. He joined the Treasury Department earlier this year after serving three years at the Commerce Department, where he was responsible for oversight of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He has worked as a professor of chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as the president of an investment firm, and as the chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Cabot Corporation, a global chemical company.

In his letter of resignation, Secretary Abraham—the longest serving Energy Secretary in U.S. history—noted that DOE has completed 90% of the reforms outlined in President Bush's 2001 national energy plan. The remainder constitutes the unfinished legislative provisions of H.R. 6 , the energy bill that has been under a yearlong Senate filibuster. For more information.

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National report calls for increasing government support of renewables

The National Commission on Energy Policy, a bipartisan group of top energy experts from industry, government, labor, academia, and environmental and consumer groups, released a consensus strategy on 8 December. More than two years in the making, the report, “Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America's Energy Challenges,” contains detailed policy recommendations for addressing oil security, climate change, natural gas supply, the future of nuclear energy, and other long-term challenges, and is backed by more than 30 original research studies.

To expand the contribution of clean, renewable energy, the Commission recommends:

  • Increasing federal support for renewable technology research and development by $360 million annually, targeted at overcoming key hurdles in cost competitiveness and early deployment.

  • Extending the federal production tax credit for a further four years (i.e., from 2006 through 2009), and expanding eligibility to all non-carbon energy sources, including solar, geothermal, new hydropower generation, next generation nuclear, and advanced fossil fuel generation with carbon capture and sequestration.

  • Supporting ongoing efforts by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to promote market-based approaches to integrating intermittent resources into the interstate grid system.

  • Establishing a $1.5 billion program over ten years to increase domestic production of advanced non-petroleum transportation fuels from biomass (including waste).

Regarding geothermal, the report states that 15,000 MW of new geothermal capacity will be developed over the next decade with new geothermal plants expected to operate at 4-6¢/kWh. The outlook for this technology depends on at least three factors: (1) availability of geothermal resources, (2) costs for competing energy resources, and (3) continued technology improvement (p. 64). The report also mentioned ground-source heat pumps.

"For more than 30 years, Energy has been the graveyard of many a brave policy titan," said William K. Reilly, former EPA Administrator and Commission co-chair. "But our analysis shows that these recommended policies can curb  U.S.  oil use, begin to address greenhouse gas emissions, develop viable new technologies, and put the  U.S. in a much stronger energy posture. We intend to carry that message to the highest levels throughout 2005."

For more information.

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National News

The Geothermal Resources Council has issued the First Announcement &
Call for Papers
for its 2005 Annual Meeting.

For more information, click on the graphic.

GRC Annual Meeting Call for Papers
  • The Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) will convene its 2005 Annual Meeting at the Reno Hilton in Reno, Nevada on 25-28 September 2005. The GRC Annual Meeting provides the most important international annual Technical Program where participants learn about the latest advances in geothermal research and development, while enjoying a variety of Optional Events where they can renew old friendships and form new contacts with the best and most influential minds in the industry. These include Field Trips, Workshops, Annual Banquet, Awards Luncheon, and a Golf Tournament. A unique and special event planned for the GRC 2005 Annual Meeting is a pre-conference workshop for electric utilities on geothermal power generation in cooperation with the DOE GPW Program. For more information.

  • On 20 December, leading renewable energy business organizations formed the new Renewable Energy Business Alliance. The Alliance will amplify and unify the voice in support of policies and programs to expand renewable energy production in the U.S., including a significant extension of the production tax credit. National trade associations representing wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, and waste-to-energy together with public power and rural electric co-ops, joined in founding the organization. The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is a founding member.

  • "Renewable Energy in America: The Call for Phase II" was held 6-7 December in Washington, D.C. The policy forum engaged 300-400 of the nation’s top speakers and senior delegates from government policy, industry, finance, and other sectors of the energy community. Unlike Phase I during which the U.S. focused on energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D), Phase II calls for public policies that support putting the technology gained from that RD&D into use . The forum was organized by the American Council On Renewable Energy and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute in conjunction with the Senate and House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucuses. For more information.

  • On 6 December, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) issued a broad call for legislative proposals that offer long-term solutions to the looming crisis in natural gas supply and demand. Domenici invited industry, government, public interest groups, and private citizens to submit proposals to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by 7 January 2005. The proposals will be reviewed by committee staff with the most promising ideas discussed at a half-day meeting tentatively scheduled for 19 January. For more information, email Lisa Epifani at lisa_epifani@energy.senate.gov.

  • In follow up to the 2004 GeoPowering the West Annual State Working Group Summit, geothermal-biz.com facilitated the “Geothermal State Working Groups 101” webcast on 29 November. The webcast was designed to help the “new” states hit the ground running—to learn how the “old” states have established thriving state geothermal working groups, how their memberships are structured, the key issues they have identified, strategies they have adopted, etc.

    The webcast concluded that while “once size does not fit all” when it comes to creating and running state working groups, new groups can learn from the old. Also, there is a wide range of information available, much of it created by the states as well as GPW partner organizations.

    Amanda Ormond of The Ormond Group made a presentation on the Arizona Geothermal Working Group. Gerry Galinato of the Idaho Energy Division made a presentation on the Idaho Geothermal Energy Working Group. Curtis Framel of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Western Regional Office moderated the webcast. Webcast presentations are available in PDF format on the Geothermal-biz.com website.

  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is seeking a Senior Analyst II — Geothermal Energy Focus, to work in its Washington, D.C. office. The position will play a major role in the development of a framework for planning and organizing analysis needed to support the planning and management of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Geothermal Technology Program, and a lead role in conducting specific studies and analyses important to geothermal energy and in interpreting their results. For more information.

  • Replacing 700 1-Gigawatt conventional coal plants with facilities using renewable energy could reduce carbon emissions by 1 gigatonne a year. So concludes Facts and trends to 2050: Energy and climate change (1.86 MB PDF), released by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) during the World Energy Congress in Sydney, Australia, 5-9 September 2004. The document estimates that geothermal energy's current capacity and potential growth prospects are similar to that of wind (over 1 GW), and found that a geothermal plant has a very low land use "footprint." For more information.

  • State renewable portfolio standards, mandates, and renewable energy goals in 15 states have resulted in an estimated 2,335 megawatts of new renewable electricity supply by the end of 2003. Most of the new capacity is fueled by wind power (2,183 megawatts), with smaller amounts of landfill gas, hydroelectricity, biomass, and solar photovoltaic technologies. Of the 15 states, Texas leads in the amount of new renewable energy capacity. In addition, state initiatives have also contributed to new renewable energy capacity in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona, California, and Massachusetts. For more information: "State Renewable Energy Requirements and Goals: Status Through 2003" by Thomas Petersik, Energy Information Administration.

  • The Bonneville Environmental Foundation and 11 ski area-members of the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association are working together to address global climate change. The ski areas support energy from clean, sustainable, and secure sources by purchasing Green Tags from BEF, participating in their local utility's green power programs, and encouraging their guests to support renewable energy by offering Mini-Green Tags for purchase along with season passes and lift tickets. For more information.

  • The RETScreen Ground-Source Heat Pump Project Model can be used world-wide to easily evaluate the energy production (or savings), life-cycle costs, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction for the heating and/or cooling of residential, commercial, institutional and industrial buildings. The model can be used to evaluate both retrofit and new construction projects using either ground-coupled (horizontal and vertical closed-loop) or groundwater heat pumps. The free RETScreen International Clean Energy Project Analysis Software is a unique decision support tool developed with the contribution of numerous experts from government, industry, and academia. For more information.

  • According to Scott Sklar, president of The Stella Group, Ltd., "The Bush Administration's first term has been a very mixed bag regarding renewable energy policies." He gave the Bush Administration a D+/C- grade, stating that "There is no articulated 'vision' for renewables within the Bush Administration and no drive for expansion, acceleration, or even acclimation." For more information: "A Look At Bush Administration Policies Regarding Renewable Energy," Renewable Energy Access, 28 October 2004.

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State Roundup

Alaska

For further information on geothermal activities in Alaska, contact:

Bernie Smith
Project Manager
Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority/
Alaska Energy Authority
Tel: (907) 269-4643
Email: BSmith@aidea.org

  • Alaska Rocks 2005, the 40th U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium, will take place on 25-29 June 2005, in Anchorage. The symposium will include a session on geothermal energy, the first such session ever held at a U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium. For more information.

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American Samoa

No news.

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Arizona

For further information on the Arizona Geothermal
Working Group (AzGeo), contact
:

Amanda Ormond
The Ormond Group
Tel: (480) 491-3305
Email: asormond@msn.com

  • Northern Arizona University (NAU), in collaboration with Arizona State University, Arizona Public Service Company, New Mexico State University, and the Ormond Group, is holding Geothermal Outreach Forums in five areas of the state that have geothermal resources. The forums will educate local Arizona communities about geothermal energy and the potential to develop that energy source to benefit the community.

    The Outreach Forums are part of a larger effort to increase awareness of and interest in geothermal energy to spur electricity production and direct use applications from Arizona's geothermal resources. In November, the project team visited Alpine Arizona to discuss geothermal potential to provide heating for homes and business, spas, and for other direct use applications.  In December, meetings will be held in Casa Grande and in the Clifton and Safford areas.  This work is funded by DOE through a State Energy Program (SEP) grant with the state energy office.

    In addition, NAU will launch a new website site which will contain comprehensive information on Arizona's geothermal resources in the first quarter of 2005. For more information, email Amanda Ormond at asormond@msn.com.

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California

For further information on geothermal activities in California, contact:

Elaine Sison-Lebrilla
Geothermal Program Manager
California Energy Commission

Tel: (916) 654-5129
Email: esisonle@energy.state.ca.us

  • On 16 December, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted long-term energy procurement plans for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E); and provided direction to the utilities on the procurement of the resources identified in their plans. "Today the Commission not only approved plans for the utilities that will ensure there is sufficient power for the state, we also reaffirmed our commitment to energy efficiency, demand-side resources, and renewable energy," said Michael R. Peevey, president of the Commission.

    State regulators also approved a free-market approach to power-plant construction, enabling independent "merchant" generators to remain major players in California's energy picture. According to Calpine Corp. spokesman Kent Robertson, the bidding process will translate into the cheapest electricity possible. "This is comparison shopping, it puts everybody on a level playing field," he said (Source: "California approves free-market approach for building new power plants" by Dale Kasler, The Sacramento Bee, 17 December 2004).

  • DOE's GPW Program and the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) held two green power workshops for public utilities in California. Approximately 120 utility representatives and interested parties attended the workshops, which took place on 30 November in Roseville, and on 2 December in Riverside. The workshops were designed to give utilities and renewable energy providers a better understanding of renewable energy options and markets, and the design of meaningful green power programs. They were sponsored by the Northern California Public Power Agency and the Southern California Public Power Authority; and co-organized by the Utility Energy Forum, NREL, DOE's Wind Powering America Program, and the Public Renewables Partnership. For more information, email Randy Manion, WAPA, at MANION@wapa.gov.

  • In an 18 November column in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled "More renewable energy produced on public lands, more needed," Rebecca Watson, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the Department of the Interior (DOI) asserted the agency's ability to provide access to public lands where potential for renewable energy development is high and environmentally sound. "Increased development of wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy on these lands is possible with close collaboration between government agencies, the energy industry and the public," she said.

    Watson noted that the Bureau of Land Management has issued more than 200 geothermal leases in the past four years, that new geothermal power plants on public lands in California alone will contribute almost 100 MW; and that future efforts will focus on 35 highest potential public land sites, 9 in California.

  • The Santa Rosa Geysers Wastewater Project has completed its first year. Wastewater flows through 40 miles of pipeline to The Geysers, where it is injected into the ground to maintain the life of the world's largest geothermal energy complex. Apart from the wildfire that forced the system to shut down for three weeks in September, "Santa Rosa's system has been virtually flawless," said Dennis Gilles, vice president of geothermal for Calpine, the city's partner in the $250 million project (Source: "One Year Later: The Geysers: After overcoming legal, engineering challenges, SR project with Calpine works so well wastewater proves hot commodity" by Mike McCoy, The Press Democrat, 29 November 2004).

  • The Santa Rosa Geysers Wastewater Project has received numerous awards, including the 2004 Helen Putnam Award: Award for Excellence in Planning and Environmental Quality; the Green Power Leadership Award for Innovative Use of Renewable Energy Technology from DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Project of the Year from the Water Reuse Association; and the Public Agency Environmental Responsibility Award from the California Manufacturers & Technology Association and the Industrial Environment Association (Source: "SR's Geysers wastewater project garners 4 awards, U.S. Energy Department among award-givers" by Mike McCoy, The Press Democrat, 29 November 2004).

  • Inspectors have determined the cause of the huge Labor Day fire at The Geysers but are withholding the information pending a review by the state Justice Department. Eric Hoffmann, a California Department of Forestry battalion chief, said the fire, which started 3 September and burned 12,525 acres in the Mayacmas Mountains in Sonoma and Lake counties over a five-day period, wasn't deliberately set. He said the Justice Department's interest in the report apparently stems from the possibility of insurance claims from parties that sustained losses. More than 2,500 firefighters battled the fire at a cost of about $12.5 million. While the fire destroyed some Calpine Corp. equipment, firefighters were able to save pumping stations and geothermal power plants (Source: "Cause of Geysers wildfire withheld" by Randi Rossmann, The Press Democrat, 15 December 2004).

  • Calpine Corp. and the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) will pay up to $100,000 a year to neighbors who have complained that Lake County geothermal plants are responsible for a sharp increase in earthquakes at The Geysers. Calpine Corp. announced an agreement to provide $70,000 annually to residents in Anderson Springs and Cobb Valley on 11 November. NCPA, which operates two plants at The Geysers, tentatively has offered to pay Anderson Springs residents up to $30,000 a year.

    Seismic activity has jumped 30% since Calpine began injecting Santa Rosa wastewater into the underground steamfields at The Geysers. The company agrees that its operations have triggered a flurry of small quakes in the region but it does not believe the quakes are responsible for damage reported to nearby homes, said Mitch Stark, senior geoscientist at Calpine. "It is not an admission of liability for damage to their homes, he said. "It's really just a general community fund." Calpine has established similar funds in other California communities adjacent to its plants.

    Lake County may also contribute money to the community fund. The county received almost $500,000 in 2004 in federal geothermal mining royalties and is considering sharing some of it with Anderson Springs and Cobb Valley (Source: "Geysers firms offer $100,000 a year to Lake neighbors" by Glenda Anderson, The Press Democrat, 11 November 2004).

  • Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. took an after-tax charge of $255 million from writing down the value of a MidAmerican Energy Holdings operation that extracts zinc from brine near its geothermal energy facilities in the Imperial Valley. The operation consistently lost money since it began in 2002 (Source: "Hurricane losses hit Berkshire earnings," Omaha World-Herald, 6 November 2004).

  • The city of Paso Robles has received a $187,015 grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to study its geothermal resources. The city will provide $41,515 in matching money. The study will identify where hot springs are located and pinpoint areas to avoid for development, and give instructions on how the city can best use the resources, said interim Public Works Director Meg Williamson. The city's long term goal is to use the geothermal resource as an energy source. Paso Robles is situated on at least 20 square miles of a geothermal reservoir. The project should be completed by May 2006 (Source: "Putting a finger on hot spots — The city sits on at least 20 square miles of a geothermal reservoir; it wants to find out where the hot springs are and how they might be used" by Monika Tjia, The Tribune, 3 December 2004).

  • In 2004, Santa Rosa-based Thermochem, Inc. completed several research programs in geothermal technologies including testing scale control techniques for heat exchanger bottoming cycles at Roosevelt Hot Springs, Utah, and Puna, Hawai'i. In addition, after several years of collaborative effort with Sandia National Laboratory, Thermochem finished developing a two-phase downhole sampling tool that was successfully tested in The Philippines. The DOE- and CEC-funded Dry Steam Scrubbing process for HCl removal from superheated steam is nearing the final stages of testing at The Geysers. Thermochem also made significant sales in specialized instrumentation to the energy industry in 2004. On-going research in 2005 will include developing an on-line laser absorption steam quality and purity monitor through a technology license with Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), and advanced sensors for continuous two-phase flow measurement.

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Colorado

For further information on geothermal activities in Colorado, contact:

Ed Lewis
Deputy Director, Management and Conservation
Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation
Tel: (303) 894-2383
Email: ed.lewis@state.co.us

  • On 2 November 2004, 53% of Colorado voters passed an historic statewide renewable portfolio standard (RPS), becoming the first time in U.S. history that the general public, rather than state lawmakers, "enacted" an RPS. Amendment 37 will require Colorado's top utility companies to provide 3% of their retail electricity sales from renewable resources by 2007, 6% by 2011, and 10% by 2015.  The initiative requires the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to initiate a rulemaking process before 1 April 2005, and to have the new rules in place a year later. The amount an average residential electric bill could increase due to the new requirement is capped at 50 cents per month. For more information.

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Hawai'i

For further information on geothermal activities in Hawai'i, contact:

Priscilla C. Thompson
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
Energy, Resources, and Technology Division
Tel: (808) 586-2353
Email: PThompso@dbedt.hawaii.gov

No news.

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Idaho

For further information on the Idaho Geothermal Energy
Working Group, contact
:

Gerry Galinato
Energy Division,
Idaho Department of Water Resources
Tel: (208) 327-7963
Email: ggalinat@idwr.state.id.us
  • The Idaho Geothermal Energy Working Group tentatively plans to hold a steering committee meeting in January 2005. For more information, email Gerry Galinato at ggalinat@idwr.state.id.us.

  • The Idaho Energy Division will co-sponsor and participate in the Harvesting Clean Energy conference in Great Falls, Montana, on 19 January 2005. Ken Neely and Gerry Galinato of the Energy Division will discuss current and future use of geothermal energy in Idaho under the session entitled "Small Scale Renewable Energy for the farm, ranch, or home."

  • The first Idaho Sustainability Conference is slated for 2-3 March 2005 in Boise. It will have an energy track, which will include geothermal resource use.

  • During the week of 14 March 2005, the Idaho Energy Division, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will conduct a series of workshops around the state, showing business people how to apply for Farm Bill grants, including those for geothermal applications.

  • The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) issued an order defining the parameters of contracts between Idaho Power and developers of small geothermal and wind power projects on 22 November. US Geothermal filed a complaint against Idaho Power in March 2004. Two small wind developers joined the complaint. The small-power producers objected to Idaho Power's contract provisions in three major areas.

    1) Idaho Power proposed to pay other than the IPUC-set posted rates when the output from the complainants' projects is less than 90% or more than 110% of projected output.

    IPUC agreed to the 90-110 performance band, but allowed the developers more opportunities to revise their output estimates thereby allowing them greater likelihood of staying within the performance band. The commission also lessened the severity of the financial penalties Qualifying Facilities (QFs) would receive for falling outside the performance band.

    2) The complainants objected to Idaho Power's metered energy test as a method of determining whether a project qualifies under the 10 MW limit the commission places on the size of small-power projects to qualify for PURPA rates.

    The majority on the commission ruled that the 10 MW capacity limit should remain, but that Idaho Power's proposed metered energy test is "operationally too restrictive." Instead, the commission ordered that QF generation be measured on a monthly, rather than hourly, basis.

    3) The developers objected to an Idaho Power provision that allowed it to terminate its QF contracts if Idaho allowed deregulation at the retail level and other parties were able to sell electricity in Idaho Power's service territory.

    IPUC unanimously agreed to not allow Idaho Power to terminate contracts if deregulation occurs.

    Documents related to the case can be accessed on from IPUC's website. Scroll down to Case No. IPC-E-04-8. For more information: "Commission settles Idaho Power, small-power producer issues," IPUC Press Release, 22 November 2004.

  • US Geothermal and the Idaho Power Company have finished negotiations and settled on a power purchase agreement for electrical output from phase one of the Raft River geothermal project. US Geothermal plans to bring the Raft River plant online in 2006 with a monthly production capacity average of 10 MW.

    The new Idaho Power levelized price for a 20 year term contact, with a 2006 on-line date, is $60.99 per MW compared to the previous price of $56.13 per MW, an 8.7% increase. The Raft River power plant anticipates contracting for non-levelized power prices that start at $51.50 per MW and increases 2.3 % annually to a maximum of $81.25 per MW over the 20-year term of the contract. The prices are established for electric power only. US Geothermal retains ownership of the Renewable Energy Credits (Green Tags and carbon credits), and intends to market them separately, which can significantly enhance the profitability of the project. For more information.
  • The well test program at US Geothermal's Raft River geothermal site was completed in early November. The program found that four of the existing production wells have an initial capacity of 13.8 MW (net of pump parasitic load) and would support at least a 10 MW net electrical power output. The fifth production well is non-commercial but will be studied for re-drilling of a new directional leg toward a more productive flow zone. The production wells exhibit an artesian head pressure of 140 psi at temperatures of 272-300°F. GeothermEx, Inc. of Richmond, California analyzed and interpreted the flow test data. For more information.

  • While US Geothermal president Daniel Kunz applauds the extension of a national Production Tax Credit to geothermal, the Raft River project will miss having access to the PTC by six months. To qualify for the credit, new plants must be up and running by the end of 2005. Project developers in Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and California are calling for an extension of the credits. "We're pretty optimistic the credit will eventually get a renewal," Kunz said (Source: "Tax credits could boost alternative energy ... Credits come too soon to help some Magic Valley energy producers" by Michelle Dunlop, Times-News, 1 November 2004).

  • Upon receipt of major funding, Idatherm LLC will begin drilling at Willow Springs. Willow Springs has been evaluated by independent experts; the environmental work has been completed and permits obtained. Leasing is complete at the China Cap site; Idatherm obtained its lease from BLM in a few months. All of the basic environmental work to enable deep drilling has been completed. In addition, Idatherm is looking other high-temperature geothermal prospects in Idaho.

    Dr. Carl Austin, Idatherm exploration manager and Willow Springs manager, received the Geothermal Pioneer award at the Geothermal Resources Council's 2004 Annual Meeting.

  • The market situation in Idaho for geothermal power has improved significantly with Idaho Power Company looking for 100 MW of geothermal power to be online by 2008 (see 2004 Integrated Resource Plan). Idaho Power intends to issue a request for proposals for approximately 100 MW of geothermal generation in early 2005. Depending on the success of the geothermal projects, geothermal generation may play a greater role in future resource portfolios.

  • The Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR), including the Energy Division which chairs the Idaho Geothermal Energy Working Group, moved into its new home in October 2004. The six-story Idaho Water Center is the newest customer in the City of Boise’s geothermal space heating district, which serves 50 other customers, mostly government offices and business in downtown Boise. Three other geothermal district heating systems serve other Boise customers. Combined, the four systems withdrew 743 million gallons in Water Year 2004 (1 October 2003 to 30 September 2004) and reinjected 64% of these fluids.

    IDWR recently published a short technical summary, "Review of Boise Front Geothermal Monitoring Data for Water Year 2004. A copy can be requested by calling (208) 287-4852.

  • "Economic Feasibility of a Proposed Redclaw Crayfish Farm Utilizing Geothermal Water as an Energy Resource," a study commissioned by the Idaho Energy Division for a proposed fresh water lobster facility at the future Raft River power plant site, was recently completed by the University of Idaho's Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. The results of the study were presented to Red Claw Farms owner, Neil Smeltzer, on 15 November. When the proposed Raft River geothermal power plant being developed by US Geothermal comes online, the farm will use its spent geothermal water.

    Ada County Courthouse
    Ada County Courthouse
    • The geothermally-heated Ada County Courthouse and Administration Building in Boise has been awarded the ENERGY STAR label from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in recognition of its energy-efficient design. Fewer than 1,800 buildings in the United States have received this designation. The county saw a 56%
    reduction in energy use per square foot during the building's first full month of operation, compared to a year earlier. For more information.

  • The Idaho Energy Division has revised its loan program to include a more diverse cross section of the state. Recently added components include retrofitting existing farm buildings and dairy parlors. Ag producers can borrow a maximum of $100,000 at 4% interest for five years. “This loan program is designed to help fund projects that can reduce energy consumption,” says Stuart Van Greuningen, senior energy specialist with the Energy Division.

    In addition to agricultural loans, the Energy Division also provides low interest energy loans to individuals, businesses, schools, hospitals, and health care facilities for programs and projects that result in the conservation of energy and utilization of renewable resources within the state of Idaho. For more information.

  • Frank Priestley, president of the Idaho Farm Bureau called for "Congress to get behind meaningful energy legislation that encourages development of alternative resources like wind, ethanol, geothermal, biodiesel and methane and biomass digesters," including the Renewable Fuel Standard. "These new technologies would not only create jobs and commerce in rural America, they'll reduce energy costs for American families," he added. Priestley identified government subsidies given to traditional energy development as a primary barrier to the development of alternative energy (Source: "Commentary: National Energy Legislation Should Boost Renewable Fuels" by Frank Priestley, Capital Press Agriculture Newspaper, 27 August 2004).

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Kansas

  • The Kansas Corporation Commission's Energy Program held the state's 5th Annual Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Conference on 26-27 October in Topeka. Lieutenant Governor John Moore opened the conference, which featured such expert speakers as Larry Flowers of NREL and Doug Seiter of DOE's Central Regional Office. The conference was co-sponsored by DOE's Wind Powering America Program. For more information.

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Montana

For further information on geothermal activities in Montana, contact:

Kathi Montgomery
Air, Energy and Pollution Prevention Bureau
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Tel: (406) 841-5243
Email: kmontgomery@state.mt.us

  • Governor-elect Brian Schweitzer declared his support for clean energy development while announcing his transition team. Nancy Peterson, selected to be director of the state Department of Agriculture, favors the development of wind energy, biodiesel, and ethanol. Richard Opper, appointed to head the Department of Environmental Quality, worked in the 1980s as an environmental consultant. Schweitzer stated that he will push a bill to encourage ethanol production (Source: "New Montana Governor Signals Support for Clean Energy," Harvesting Clean Energy eNews Bulletin, December 2004).

  • Brad Molnar (R-Laurel) beat Russell L. Doty (D-Billings) in a contentious race to fill the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) District 2 seat, with a vote of 51,394 to 32,999. Unlike Doty, who called for a renewable portfolio standard of 20%, Molnar opposes long-term contracts because it locks in prices that might be lower in the future. He said he was working with legislators to draft bills that would mandate that the PSC get the lowest cost reliable electricity. Democrat Bob Raney was elected in PSC District 3; Republican Doug Mood was elected in PSC District 4 (Source: "PSC candidates discuss energy policies" by Jim Gransbery, The Gazette, 26 October 2004).

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Nebraska

No news.

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Nevada

For further information on geothermal activities in Nevada, contact:

John Snow
Program Manager - Oil, Gas, and Geothermal
Nevada Division of Minerals
Tel: (775) 684-7045
Email: jsnow@govmail.state.nv.us

  • The Bureau of Land Management could approve the state's first new geothermal operation since 1982 in January 2005. With the permitting process almost finished and an accelerated development schedule planned by Nevada Geothermal Specialists LLC (NGS), the 10-MWe plant could go online by late 2005. According to NGS co-founder, Bill Price, without the new 1.8¢/kWh geothermal production tax credit (PTC), the company would develop the plant at a slower pace. Currently, the PTC only applies to plants that are online before 1 January 2006 (Source: "Salt Wells power plant nears approval" by Cory McConnell, Lahontan Valley News, 8 December 2004).

  • Shares of Ormat Technologies, Inc. (OTI) began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on 11 November after the company raised $93.75 million in its initial public offering. OTI, which trades under the ticker symbol ORA, sold 6.25 million shares at $15. Based in Sparks, OTI owns and operates 12 geothermal power stations in Israel, the US, Guatemala, Kenya, Nicaragua, and the Philippines. Another three projects are under construction. The company, which posted revenues of $63.3 million and a net income of $6.8 million in the third quarter of 2004, will pay out at least 20% of its annual profits as quarterly dividends (Source: "Ormat unit completes US IPO" by Zev Stub, The Jerusalem Post, 11 November 2004).

  • Ormat Nevada, Inc. drilled a reinjection well at its Steamboat Geothermal Complex in November. The well, will replace water that is lost when steam is harnessed from heated ground water to spin turbines and produce electricity, said Daren Daters, plant manager. The Steamboat complex contains three plants which produce about 45 MWe, 20 MWe of which is sold to Sierra Pacific Power Company under a 20-year power purchase agreement. Nevada has an estimated 2,500-3,700 MWe of geothermal power generation potential (Source: "Reno geothermal energy steaming along" by Brandy Dela Vega, Reno Gazette-Journal, 8 December 2004).

  • Esmeralda Energy Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Geo-Energy Partners-1983 Ltd. (GEO-83) signed a Geothermal Resource Exploration and Definition III (GRED III) award for the Emigrant Slimhole Drilling Project on 7 October. Under the award, DOE will fund 80% of a proposed 4,000-foot core hole at the Emigrant Geothermal Project in Esmeralda County. Esmeralda will pay 20% of the cost of all three Project Phases. The DOE total cost share is estimated at a maximum of $592,000 of a total estimated budget of $740,000, while Esmeralda's 20% cost share is estimated at $148,000.

    Fish Lake Green Power Company (FLGPC), another GEO-83 subsidiary, will manage all Emigrant Slimhole Drilling Project operations. The University of Utah Energy and Geoscience Institute and Earth Systems Southwest will assist.

    Esmeralda is in the process of seeking a long-term power purchase agreement. A report authored by GeothermEx Inc.—"New Geothermal Site Identification And Qualification"—estimated Emigrant to be capable of a minimum of 49 MWe and a maximum of 118 MWe, with the most likely level of 85 MWe.

    For more information on the Emigrant Slimhole Drilling Project, contact John Deymonaz at FLGPC (Tel: 775-572-3372 or greenpower@gbis.com). For more information on GEO-83 or Esmeralda, contact Jack McNamara (Tel: 818-865-8515 or jackmack@suesec.com).

  • The Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Task Force was formed three years ago to administer the Trust Fund for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation which provides funding for programs of renewable energy, energy conservation, and energy efficiency. The Task Force also advises the Nevada State Office of Energy on renewable energy and energy conservation aspects of the Comprehensive State Energy Plan. Meeting minutes, legislative report, and other materials are posted on the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Task Force website.

  • The following information is provided courtesy of the Nevada Oil Reporter. For more information on BLM leases in Nevada, see the website: http://www.blm.gov/lr2000 (Source: Nevada Geothermal Update, September 2004).

    Non-Competitive Geothermal BLM Lease Applications, Pending:
    Katz, Lewis
    Crescent Valley, Eureka County
    Ormat Energy, Inc.
    Salt Wells, Churchill County
    Ormat Nevada, Inc.
    Salt Wells, Churchill County
    Ormat Energy, Inc.
    Salt Wells, Churchill County
    Ormat Nevada, Inc.
    Salt Wells, Churchill County
    Ormat Nevada, Inc.
    Salt Wells, Churchill County
    Recent Geothermal BLM Leases Issued:
    Western Geothermal Partners
    Shoshone Range, Lander County
    Western Geothermal Partners
    Shoshone Range, Lander County
    Western Geothermal Partners
    Silverpeak, Esmeralda County
    Competitive Sale Geothermal Lease Applications Dropped:
    None

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New Mexico

For further information on the New Mexico Geothermal Energy
Working Group, contact
:

Brian K. Johnson
Geothermal Program Manager
Minerals and Natural Resources Department
New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources
Tel: (505) 476-3313
Email: bkjohnson@state.nm.us

  • Governor Bill Richardson announced that he would ask the state legislature to fund a new agency that would promote the production of renewable energy, primarily wind, in New Mexico. The proposed quasi-state agency would be known as the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority. Its purpose "would be to offer financing to entities who are interested in developing wind energy production and transmission projects," said Robert Castillo, head of the Electricity Transmission Task Force tasked with drafting the legislation. How much funding the authority would require, or where that funding would come from will be addressed and presented to Richardson in a final report by the end of December. For more information: "Guv airs wind energy plans" by Erik Siemers, The Albuquerque Tribune, 9 December 2004.

  • There is no Governor's Task Force for geothermal energy at the present time, and geothermal energy is not included as a "qualified energy resource" in the existing State renewable energy production tax credit (New Mexico Statutes §7-2A-19). The New Mexico Geothermal Energy Working Group (NMGEWG) has consequently agreed to support efforts by the Governor's Biomass Task Force to change the existing Production Tax Credit law and net-metering rule in order to provide incentives for geothermal projects. The NMGEWG presented a statement at the 10 November Biomass Task Force, recommending the following :revisions to the current legislation:

    • Identify geothermal as a qualifying renewable energy source in any new legislation that revises the PTC law (geothermal is currently not named);
    • Reduce the minimum capacity requirement for a qualifying renewable energy power plant under the PTC to 500 kW from its current level of 10 MW; and
    • Increase the maximum capacity requirement for net-metering to be 500 kW from its current level of 10 kW.

  • The NMGEWG held an Action Meeting on 9 November in Albuquerque to discuss the new geothermal strategic plan. Proposed actions to implement the strategic plan’s objectives include:

    • Establish an NMGEWG webpage on the EMNRD website.
    • Distribute the strategic plan to key people and organizations.
    • Issue press releases to highlight the strategic plan, NMGEWG, and current New Mexico projects.
    • Establish a NMGEWG speakers bureau.
    • Slimhole exploratory drilling in Socorro at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
    • EMNRD- New Mexico State University (NMSU) project for geothermal agribusiness development.
    • EMNRD-NMSU project for geothermal district heating and cooling.
    • New Mexico case studies of ground-coupled heat pump systems will be
      developed by EMNRD in 2005.

    The next annual NMGEWG meeting is tentatively set for 10-11 May 2005, in Las Cruces. It will be hosted by New Mexico State University (NMSU).

    For more information, contact Brian Johnson, New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) Geothermal Program Manager, at (505) 476-3313 or bkjohnson@state.nm.us.

  • EMNRD requested quotes from consultants to deliver services and materials to document geothermal heat pump (GHP) technology applications in the state. The scope of work includes identifying facilities in New Mexico where GHP systems have been installed, and providing information and data that will demonstrate the value of applying GHP technology in New Mexico as an energy efficiency and renewable energy measure. The consultant will compete a final report by 15 April 2005. The EMNRD funding is provided through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) GeoPowering the West program. Quotes were due 10 December. For more information, contact Brian Johnson, EMNRD Geothermal Program Manager, at (505) 476-3313 or bkjohnson@state.nm.us.

  • New Mexico Tech geochemistry professor David I. Norman and Tech geophysics professor Harold J. Tobin recently were awarded a $503,172 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Resource Exploration and Definition (GRED) III program to conduct research and exploratory drilling to more accurately evaluate the geothermal potential of university property situated in a Known Geothermal Resource Area which surrounds Socorro Peak. Norman says a recent independent study conducted of New Mexico Tech’s energy needs determined that most of what the university spends on natural gas—about $650,000 each year—could be saved by the availability of an 800-gallon-per-minute, 140°F supply of hot water. New Mexico Tech will provide $125,793 in cost share. For more information.

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North Dakota

No news.

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Oklahoma


Oregon

For further information on geothermal activities in Oregon, contact:

Carel C. DeWinkel
Conservation Division,
Oregon Department of Energy
Tel: (503) 378-6099
Email: carel.dewinkel@state.or.us

  • The Oregon Geothermal Working Group met on 9 November in Bend. Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) Senior Policy Analyst Carel DeWinkel and Ecos Consulting Program Manager Alex Sifford presided over the first meeting of the working group. Almost 40 people attended the meeting, more than the 27 who registered.

    Comments were solicited for incorporation into the draft Oregon Strategic Plan. Utilities PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric were invited to join the Working Group. Action items from the meeting included compiling a list of all publications related to Oregon, and adding new water chemistry data to the existing body of knowledge.

    The working group will next meet in Bend on 9 February 2005, following a workshop aimed at electric utilities. For more information, email: Alex Sifford, Ecos Consulting, at asifford@ecosconsulting.com. For lodging information.

  • The final draft of the Oregon Renewable Energy Action Plan is awaiting Governor Kulongoski's review. The governor directed several state agencies to outline a plan to work together to make greater use of renewable energy a priority. The resulting plan calls for 30 MW or more of geothermal electric generation to be in development by the end of 2006. It also calls for establishing a fund to collect information on well and spring geochemistry, and make those data publicly available; and appointing a blue-ribbon Transmission Expansion Working Group to make recommendations to the Governor on how to solve regional transmission issues. For more information: "Renewable Energy Report Headed to Oregon Governor" by Mitch Lies, Capital Press Agriculture Newspaper, 5 November 2004.

  • A new Bachelor of Science degree in Renewable Energy Systems will be offered by Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) in Portland. The program, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, is part of OIT's Oregon Renewable Energy Center. It will be delivered in Portland, beginning Winter Term 2005 in collaboration with Clackamas Community College. Plans call for the program to be also offered at OIT's main campus in Klamath Falls (Source: "Bachelor's Program in Renewable Energy Systems," Renewable Energy Access, 29 November 2004).

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South Dakota

No news.

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Texas

For further information on geothermal activities in Texas, contact:

David Blackwell
Southern Methodist University
Tel: (214) 768-2745
Email: blackwel@passion.isem.smu.edu


Maria Richards
Southern Methodist University
Tel: (214) 768-2749
Email: mrichard@mail.smu.edu

  • Congressman Randy Neugebauer announced that the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) will receive $194,373 in federal funds to conduct geothermal energy research on depleted deep gas wells. Neugebauer worked to secure the funding as part of the FY 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, signed by President Bush on 8 December.

    Because the Permian Basin is one of the leading oil and gas producing regions in the country, it is an ideal location for geothermal energy research.

    UTPB's Center for Energy and Economic Diversification will use the funds to locate optimal geologic and geographic sites for converting depleted deep gas wells and fields into geothermal energy wells capable of generating renewable electric power.

    To conduct its research, UTPB will create technical databases from oil and gas industry data that document subsurface geological conditions existing under the Earth's surface. A detailed evaluation of this information will determine the location of target reserves and abandoned wells suitable for conversion. The university's researchers will also study how much it will cost to sustain this alternative method to generate electricity.

    For more information, contact Dr. Richard Erdlac, UTPB, by phone at (432) 552-2442, or email at erdlac_r@utpb.edu.

  • The First Texas Clean Energy Congress held on 14-16 November called for the creation of appropriate policies, programs, and business climate to meet the majority of the state's total energy needs with sustainable energy by the year 2020. More than 150 people representing over 50 organizations from across the state gathered in Austin to call for bold new energy goals for Texas.

    The Congress issued a Declaration of Sustainability and Sustainable Energy Bill of Rights which is available for endorsement online. Karen Hadden, director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition, said the Congress' declaration comes at a time when the Texas Energy Planning Council is expected to issue an energy plan for Texas."We hope [the Council] will consider the message of this declaration and issue strong renewable energy goals," she said. For more information.

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Utah

For further information on the Utah Geothermal Working Group, contact:

Bob Blackett
Senior Geologist, Utah Geological Survey
Tel: (435) 865-8139
Email: blackett@suu.edu

  • The Utah Geothermal Working Group will tentatively hold its next meeting at the Utah Department of Natural Resources in Salt Lake City on 24 February 2005.
    Topics to be addressed may include: Cove Fort-Sulphurdale power development project and leasing update; Utah State Prison geothermal heating project; National Geothermal Collaborative EIS process analysis; geothermal issues on Native American lands; Federal geothermal production tax credit; and waste-heat utilization. For more information, contact Bob Blackett, Utah Geological Survey, at Tel: (435) 865-8139, or email at blackett@suu.edu.

  • Utah Geological Survey Open-File Report 431 is available from the Utah Department of Natural Resources Bookstore. As part of "Geothermal Resources of Utah - 2004," the CD-ROM contains two reports: (1) "Utah's High Temperature Geothermal Resource Potential, Analysis of Selected Sites, " which analyzes economic and institutional aspects of nine geothermal areas in Utah with respect to geothermal power development potential; and (2) "Geothermal Gradient Data for Utah," which presents temperature-depth data compiled from the U.S. Geological Survey, Southern Methodist University, and published sources for both shallow boreholes and deep wildcat wells in Utah. UGS OFR-431 also contains comprehensive information on all geothermal areas in Utah in addition to numerous GIS layers, images, and documents.

    Jon Allred of the Utah Energy Office recently completed a draft cost-benefit study of three geothermal direct-use projects in Utah: (1) the Utah State Prison heating system near Bluffdale in Salt Lake County, (2) Milgro Nurseries' greenhouse complex at Newcastle in Iron County, and (3) Bonneville SeaBase, a SCUBA dive facility near Grantsville in Tooele County. The study will eventually be included on
    the next version of the aforementioned OFR-431.

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Washington

For further information on geothermal activities in Washington, contact:

Gordon Bloomquist
Geothermal, Hydrothermal and Integrated Energy Systems
Washington State University
Tel: (360) 956-2016
Email: bloomquistr@energy.wsu.edu

No news.

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Wyoming

For further information on geothermal activities in Wyoming, contact:

Ed Werner
Business Development Director,
Converse Area New Development Organization
Tel: (307) 358-2000
Email: ewerner@candowyoming.com

No news.

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