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spacerDecember 2005, Issue No. 20

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Happy New Year!

"...2006 is going to be a great year for geothermal."

Assistant Secretary Rebecca Watson
U.S. Department of the Interior
26 September 2005

Federal Update

Bureau of Land Management solicits comments on new geothermal regulations

Free webcast series on geothermal energy for utilities
Geothermal Calendar of Events
Current Solicitations
National News
State Roundup


South Dakota

Capitol Building
Federal Update
Fiscal Year 2006 budget passed

House and Senate Conferees reached agreement on 7 November on the Fiscal Year 2006 (1 October 2005-30 September 2006) Energy and Water Appropriations Bill which funds the Department of Energy's (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Program. The conference agreement includes $23.3 million for geothermal technology which includes "continued funding at current year levels for GeoPowering the West" (GPW).

The Conference Report includes the following specific funding directives for the geothermal program for FY06:

  • Ohio Wesleyan University Geothermal Demonstration Project — $750,000;
  • Springfield Equestrian Center Energy Efficiency Project, Ohio — $1.5 million;
  • Lipscomb University Geothermal System, Tennessee, — $500,000; and
  • Geothermal and Renewable Energy Laboratory of Nevada — $1 million.

In addition, the Conferees direct the Office of Science to fund the Geo-Heat Center at $500,000 and the consolidation of DOE's regional offices into the Project Management Center at the Golden Field Office and the National Energy Technology Laboratory no later than 30 September 2006.

The full Conference Report on H.R. 2419, Energy And Water Development Appropriations Act, 2006 (Conference Report 109-275), is available from the Library of Congress website.

Budget cuts at NREL

Due to budget cuts, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado plans to lay off as many as 100 scientists and researchers, or 11% of its total staff, beginning in January 2006. Congress cut DOE's FY06 budget for all renewable energy programs by more than 35%. As a result, DOE has cut the total amount it will give NREL. Said Bob Noun, NREL's deputy associate director. "This is a real paradox. At a time in which renewable energy enjoys significant bipartisan support in Congress, that very support has spawned all of these projects around the country that have diverted funds from NREL's research programs." (Source: "Layoffs in store at NREL" by Gargi Chakrabarty, Rocky Mountain News, 20 December 2005).

Alexander Karsner nominated DOE EERE Assistant Secretary

On 21 December, President Bush nominated Alexander A. ("Andy") Karsner to be Assistant Secretary of DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), replacing David Garman. Karsner currently serves as Managing Director for Enercorp, LLC, "an independent, privately held project development, project management and project finance company dedicated to commercial installation of economically sound, technologically proven, and environmentally sustainable renewable energy infrastructure." For more information.

Congressional support for geothermal in FY07 budget request

  • A bipartisan group of 126 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Bush in early November urging him to significantly increase funding for federal energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in the Administration's FY07 budget request. In particular, the Members called upon the Administration to "retain the core programs that have historically been supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy [including] the advanced hydropower program as well as the wind, geothermal, and concentrating solar programs in addition to the buildings, industry, and vehicles efficiency programs." These programs are among those said to be targeted for deep cuts or possible elimination in the FY07 budget request.

  • Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has written to Energy Secretary Bodman expressing strong opposition to any plans to cut the program. Secretary Bodman replied that "in fiscal year 2006, we may terminate projects based on recent peer reviews of their progress and performance, but we do not plan to close-out any program activity." Regarding the FY07 budget, the Secretary wrote, "it would be premature to discuss any details" at this time. The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) Board of Directors sent a joint letter to the Office of Management and Budget arguing against rumored FY07 cuts in the already small geothermal program.

PTC amendment defeated

An amendment to the Budget Reconciliation bill to extend the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), Clean Energy Bond Funds, and other energy efficiency tax credits was defeated on the Senate floor on 17 November. Led by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) with support from Senators Kerry, Snowe, Salazar, Lautenberg, Bayh, Bingaman, Jeffords, and Feinstein, the amendment would have extended the deadline for the PTC from 2008 to 2011. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and author of Section 45, opposed the amendment for budgetary reasons, but added that "you can be assured that when it is necessary to extend it, we will."

NEPA Task Force issues 22 recommendations

After seven months of public hearings across the country, the House Task Force on Updating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) issued its Initial Findings and Draft Recommendations on 21 December. The task force recommended making 22 "modest improvements and modifications" to the 35-year-old NEPA:

    1. Amend NEPA to define "major federal action."
    2. Amend NEPA to add mandatory timelines for the completion of NEPA documents.
    3. Amend NEPA to create unambiguous criteria for the use of Categorical Exclusions, Environmental Assessments, and Environmental Impact Statements.
    4. Amend NEPA to address supplemental NEPA documents.
    5. Direct the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to prepare regulations giving weight to localized comments.
    6. Amend NEPA to codify the EIS page limits set forth in 40 CFR 1502.7.
    7. Amend NEPA to grant tribal, state, and local stakeholders cooperating agency status.
    8. Direct CEQ to prepare regulations that allow existing state environmental review process to satisfy NEPA requirements.
    9. Amend NEPA to create a citizen suit provision.
    10. Amend NEPA to add a requirement that agencies "pre clear" projects.
    11. Amend NEPA to require that "reasonable alternatives" analyzed in NEPA documents be limited to those which are economically and technically feasible.
    12. Amend NEPA to clarify that the alternative analysis must include consideration of the environmental impact of not taking an action on any
      proposed project.
    13. Direct CEQ to promulgate regulations to make mitigation proposals mandatory.
    14. Direct CEQ to promulgate regulations to encourage more consultation with stakeholders.
    15. Amend NEPA to codify CEQ regulation 1501.5 regarding lead agencies.
    16. Amend NEPA to create a "NEPA Ombudsman" within CEQ.
    17. Direct CEQ to control NEPA related costs.
    18. Amend NEPA to clarify how agencies would evaluate the effect of past actions for assessing cumulative impacts.
    19. Direct CEQ to promulgate regulations to make clear which types of future actions are appropriate for consideration under the cumulative impact
    20. CEQ study of NEPA’s interaction with other Federal environmental laws.
    21. CEQ Study of current Federal agency NEPA staffing issues.
    22. CEQ study of NEPA’s interaction with state "mini-NEPAs" and similar laws.

Litigation was seen by many as the single biggest challenge in the NEPA process. Comments on the initial report must be submitted no later than 6 February 2006.

IRS seeks Clean Renewable Energy Bond applications

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is seeking applications for the new Clean Renewable Energy Bond (CREBs) program included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Under the CREB program, up to $800 million in tax-credit bonds may be issued by qualified bond lenders, cooperative electric companies, and government bodies (including public power systems). The borrower must be a cooperative electric company or a government body, and must use the financing for wind, biomass, geothermal, or solar energy projects, or for hydropower expansions, trash combustion facilities, or refined coal production facilities. The act allows government bodies to borrow up to $500 million for such projects, setting aside at least $300 million for cooperative electric companies. Applications are due 26 April 2006. For more information: IRS solicitation.

Tax credits for ground source heat pumps

Purchasers of high-efficiency ground source heat pumps can take a $300 tax credit for systems placed in service in 2006 and 2007. For more information, see the Tax Incentives Assistance Project (TIAP) website. The TIAP is designed to give consumers and businesses information they need to make use of the federal income tax incentives for energy efficient products and technologies passed by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. For a summary of Energy Policy Act of 2005 Tax Credits.

For more information : GEA Update, Geothermal Energy Association.

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Bureau of Land Management solicits comments on new geothermal regulations

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a "standing room only" public meeting on 17 November in Reno, Nevada to solicit suggestions on how best to implement the provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 related to geothermal energy on public lands. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires that BLM hold a competitive sale of geothermal leases at least every two years, establish procedures to expedite processing of pending geothermal applications, and address geothermal leasing and development in all land use plans.

BLM National Geothermal Program Lead John Bebout told participants, "...we are doing everything possible to expedite the rulemaking process. We are hopeful that, with your input and support, we will produce regulations that are easy to interpret and effective in meeting our common goal of expanding the role of geothermal energy in meeting America's energy needs."

Meeting participants submitted many suggestions and comments, including:

  • Move forward quickly on specific sections of the Act to complete the regulations as soon as possible.
  • Move quickly on interim guidance so as not to shut down or stall business while developing a long-term solution.
  • Prioritize pending lease applications in areas where companies are looking at near-term development.
  • Implement royalty changes as soon as possible. These changes could have significant impact on impoverished counties.
  • Address leasing approvals before land use and resource management plans.
  • Provide for oral lease sale, contingent on certain elements being addressed.
  • Develop universal processes that are not subject to field office biases or obstructions.
  • It is important for decision makers to know there is a short window of time in which to react. We need workable regulations now, not perfect regulations too late.
  • If it takes months to learn the lease winner and 18 months to complete an Environmental Impact Statement, there will be no leases to take advantage of the Act’s PTC.

BLM also received a number of questions specific to interpretation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as it relates to geothermal resources. They are in the process of preparing responses to those questions.

For more information, contact John Bebout at Tel: (202) 557-3377, or email at

In a related matter, effective 7 November 2005, BLM increased some fees to cover the costs of processing documents relating to its minerals programs, including geothermal. The Geothermal (Group 3200) FY06 fees are listed below.

Old fee
New fee
Noncompetitive lease application
Competitive lease application
Assignment and transfer of record title or operating right
Name change, corporate merger or transfer to heir/devisee
Lease consolidation
Lease reinstatement
Exploration operations permit application
Geothermal Permit to Drill (GPD)

In response to Congress’s direction in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, BLM is not implementing cost recovery fees for geothermal permits to drill and geophysical and geothermal exploration permits.

For more information: Federal Register; Vol. 70, No. 194; 7 October 2005; pp.58854-58880.

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Free webcast series on geothermal energy for utilities

The Western Area Power Administration is planning three Utility Geothermal Working Group (UGWG) webcasts in early 2006.  The UGWG, part of DOE's GPW Program, works to accelerate the appropriate integration of geothermal technologies into mainstream utility applications of direct use, power generation, and geoexchange heat pumps. The topics and dates for the three webcasts are:

  1. Geothermal Power Production - 24 January 2006,
  2. Geothermal Direct Use - 14 March 2006, and
  3. GeoExchange - 18 April 2006.

The webcasts are designed for utility managers and resource planners. They will provide information on economics, financing, permitting, transmission, environmental impacts, marketing, and case histories. 

Participation is limited to the first 40 utilities that register.  There is no charge for participation.  For more information.

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National News
  • 1-2 March 2006 - The GEA Board of Directors encourages the geothermal community to join in presentations on Capitol Hill and other activities to update decision makers in Washington, D.C. about the state of the geothermal industry, its technology, and actions needed to achieve the significant energy potential of this renewable resource. For more information, contact Karl Gawell, GEA Executive Director at, or Tel: (202) 454-5264.

    Geothermal Today • The September 2005 issue of Geothermal Today details highlights on DOE's Geothermal Technologies Program. It contains articles on the DOE Geothermal Technologies Program, R&D Vision, R&D Awards and Market Needs, Getting to Know Enhanced Geothermal Systems, Raft River—Coming On-Line in Idaho, GeoPowering the West Initiative Progresses, and New Policies Having Favorable Impact on Geothermal Development.

    • In November 2005, published a new guide to help geothermal entrepreneurs, small businesses, and developers better understand the seemingly overwhelming permitting process. "An Introduction to Geothermal Permitting" gives readers a better basic understanding of the geothermal permitting process at the federal, state, and local levels, and in Indian Country. Supported by DOE's GPW Program, the guide benefits from the input of several experts in geothermal permitting. For more information: Geothermal Leasing & Permitting webpage.

  • The Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) has issued its Call for Papers for the 2006 GRC Annual Meeting to be held in San Diego, California 10-13 September 2006. Papers are sought on geothermal research, exploration, development, and utilization, including business development and finance, direct use applications, utility and transmission issues, government policies and incentives, and geothermal resource assessment. Draft technical papers are due 28 April 2006.

    The GRC 2006 Annual Meeting will focus on university student participation with its new "Year of the Student" program. With DOE assistance, the GRC will offer attendance scholarships to any student whose paper is accepted for presentation, as well as cash prizes for Best Student Oral and Poster Presentations. For more information.

  • The GEA has launched a redesigned website with updated and more information on geothermal energy. The new site provides information about where geothermal electricity is produced today in the U.S., new tax incentives for the renewable resource, and more. "We are providing more information to the public free of charge to encourage a greater understanding of this resource at an important time for the geothermal industry," notes Karl Gawell, GEA Executive Director.

    New GEA website
    New, improved GEA website

  • According to the Energy Information Administration's "Renewable Energy Trends 2004", geothermal energy produces more net electricity generation in the U.S. than wind and solar combined (Table 15, page 27). Geothermal energy produces more net electricity than biomass, wind, and solar combined in California, Nevada, and Utah; and more net electricity than wind and solar combined in Hawai'i.

  • On 8 December, in a speech to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal, Canada, former president Bill Clinton said that if the world "had a serious disciplined effort to apply on a large scale existing clean energy and energy-conservation technologies, we could meet and surpass the Kyoto targets easily in a way that would strengthen, not weaken our economies." He identified two main obstacles to the adoption of more clean energy: (1) The difficulty of changing the established order of things, and (2) The fact that the old energy economy is well-organized, well-financed, and well-connected politically while the new economy is not. He called for participants to "agree on a set of projects so everybody has something to do when they get up in the morning." For more information.

  • The United States leads the world in geothermal electric and thermal heat installed capacity, accounting for 28% of the total. According to an overview presented at the 2005 World Geothermal Congress in Antalya, Turkey, the U.S. has 2,564 MW of electric power generation installed capacity, and 7,817 MW of direct use and geothermal heat pump installed capacity. Worldwide, geothermal energy displaces 131 Mt of CO2 and saves 267 million barrels of oil a year. For more information: IGA News, July-September 2005.

  • The Federal Government exceeded its goal of obtaining 2.5% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources in FY05, using 2,375 GWh of renewable energy, up from 173 GWh in 1999. The Federal Government obtains renewable energy from biomass, geothermal, solar and wind projects. Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Federal Government must obtain 7.5% of its electrical power from renewable energy by 2013. For more information.

    DOE met its goal of sourcing the equivalent of 3% of its facilities’ electrical usage from non-hydro renewable energy sources. The goal was set by the Secretary of Energy, and covers the purchase of green power, including geothermal; onsite generating projects; and the purchase of renewable energy credits. The total non-hydro renewable energy consumption at DOE facilities exceeds 150 GWh a year. For more information.

  • DOE's EERE Office has a free e-bulletin service to announce new and significant developments in its programs and research. Subscribers can be emailed "EERE Progress Alerts" which contain information on programs including solar, geothermal, wind, hydropower, biomass and hydrogen, as well as vehicle technologies, buildings and industrial technologies, and energy efficiency. For more information.

  • Retail giant Wal-Mart will invest approximately $500 million a year in technologies and innovation to cut its stores' greenhouse gas emissions by 20% over the next seven years. In a 24 October speech, company CEO Lee Scott described Wal-Mart's environmental goals: to be supplied 100% by renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain resources and the environment. (Source: "A 'green' spurt for US businesses?" by Mark Clayton, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 October 2005).

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State Roundup


For further information on geothermal activities in Alaska, contact:

David Lockard
Alaska Energy Authority
Tel: (907) 269-4541

  • David Lockhard has replaced Bernie Smith as the key contact for GPW activities in Alaska. David is a licensed mechanical engineer. He has managed energy projects and programs for Alaska since 1995.

  • Chena Hot Springs Resort, outside of Fairbanks, is in the process of installing a 400 kW-Organic Rankine Cycle geothermal power plant. It will be the first geothermal power generation facility in Alaska and will displace a diesel power plant that currently uses approximately $250,000 worth of fuel annually. One of the unique features of this project is the low temperature of the heat source: approximately 164ºF. New automatic paralleling switchgear and a UPS/battery bank will be installed with the geothermal power plant to provide diesel-geothermal paralleling capability and ensure power quality.

  • A group of Alaskans traveled to Iceland in October to participate in an educational tour of geothermal energy facilities. The group represented rural Alaskan utilities and municipalities, including the City of Unalaska and its Public Works Department. Unalaska is only 14 miles from Makushin Volcano, a highly productive geothermal reservoir that has a bottomhole temperature of 382ºF and a pressure of 497 psi. The Icelandic geothermal applications that appeared most appropriate for consideration in Alaska include power generation, district heating, and greenhouses. The Alaskan participants were intrigued by the country's nascent hydrogen energy infrastructure, countless outdoor heated swimming pools, and sidewalks and streets heated by geothermal energy.

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

Amanda Ormond
The Ormond Group
Tel: (480) 491-3305

  • 13 January 2006 - The Arizona Geothermal Working Group will hold an informational meeting at the Western Area Power Administration in Phoenix. For more information.

  • Arizona Public Service Company (APS) will explore building two 500,000-volt (500-kV) transmission lines from Wyoming to northern Arizona. The TransWest Express Project from Four Corners to Navajo could move New Mexico wind and geothermal resources to markets in Arizona, southern Nevada, and Southern California. The Phase 1 feasibility study is expected to take about one year. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano supports the project. For more information.

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For further information on geothermal activities in California, contact:

Elaine Sison-Lebrilla
Geothermal Program Manager
California Energy Commission

Tel: (916) 654-5129

  • 25-28 January 2006 - California’s 2006 Ecological Farming Conference in Pacific Grove will feature several workshops on alternative energy options for farmers, including "The Future of Biofuels on the Farm" and a "Farmer Panel of California farmers using renewable energy sources: solar, biofuels, energy efficiency, biomass." For more information.

  • 30 January-1 February 2006 - The 31st Stanford University Geothermal Workshop will be held at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center on the Stanford Campus. For more information.

  • 23-24 May 2006 - The California Geothermal Energy Collaborative (CGEC) will convene the 2006 California Geothermal Summit at the University of California-Davis Alumni Center. CGEC will hold a half-day workshop on "California’s RPS Program–—A Geothermal Viewpoint" on 24 May. Proceedings from the last California Geothermal Summit are available online. For more information.

  • On 20 December, Calpine Corporation and many of its subsidiaries, including Calpine Generating Company, LLC, filed voluntary petitions to restructure under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The company filed the petition to allow continued operations at its power plants and facilities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico; strengthen its balance sheet; protect its assets; and enhance the value of its business. Calpine emphasized that normal operations will continue during the restructuring process. For more information.

    Valued at more than $2 billion, The Geysers could be critical to Calpine's effort to pull out of bankruptcy. Calpine has $22.5 billion in debt and $26.6 billion in assets (Source: "Geysers may be key to Calpine's recovery" by Michael Coit, The Press Democrat, 22 December 2005).

  • On 15 December, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) filed a request with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to build a major new transmission line through the Imperial Valley to San Diego County. The Sunrise Powerlink, which would give SDG&E access to geothermal and solar power sources in the Imperial Valley, would serve about 650,000 homes (Source: "SDG&E files to build line from Imperial Valley to S.D." by Terri Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 December 2005).

  • On 13 December, Ormat Technologies Inc. announced a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) for the purchase of renewable energy from its new geothermal Gould Plant in the Heber Geothermal Facilities Complex. The Gould Plant will supply 10 MW (net) of geothermal energy to Anaheim, Glendale, Pasadena, and Banning at a fixed price of $57.50/MWh, with a 1.5% annual escalation. The product carries Environmental Attributes, known as Recovered Energy Credit (RECs), which will help the cities comply with their respective Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements. For more information.

  • On 16 November, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed that the city spend $240 million to help construct a transmission line to bring electricity from geothermal fields in the Salton Sea area to the city. The five-year "Green Path" project would connect generation in the Imperial Valley to SDG&E, Southern Cal Edison, the Western Area Power Authority, and Arizona. It would help the Department of Water and Power (LADWP) meet its goal of having renewable energy comprise 20% of its electricity by 2010. The Imperial Irrigation District will spend $150 million on the project; Citizens Energy will invest $60 million (Source: "Mayor Backs Funds for Geothermal Plan" by Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 17 November 2005).

    The Salton Sea-Imperial Valley, which currently produces 475 MWe from geothermal energy, could produce up to 2,000 MWe from geothermal energy, with some experts predicting more. Development at CalEnergy's 215-MW Salton Sea Unit 6 Geothermal Power Project has stalled due to economic constraints.

  • On 8 November, 66% of Californian voters said "no" to Proposition 80 which would have re-regulated the electric power industry in the state. Karl Gawell, GEA Executive Director, joined Les Nelson of CalSEIA and James Sweeney of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research to argue against the ballot initiative calling it "A deeply flawed measure." For more information.

  • A November 2005 California Energy Commission (CEC) report warns that California’s energy infrastructure may be unable to meet the state’s energy delivery needs in the near future. The "2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report" (CEC-100-2005-007-CMF) finds that "...the development of new renewable resources has been slower than anticipated, due in part to the state’s complex and cumbersome Renewable Portfolio Standard process." The CEC issued the following renewable energy recommendations:

    • The CEC should ensure that publicly owned utilities meet the same RPS targets for eligibility and compliance required of investor-owned utilities.

    • The CPUC and CEC should establish a joint proceeding to develop a simpler and more transparent RPS process by the end of 2006.

    • The CPUC and CEC should closely monitor the 2005 renewable procurement cycle to determine the potential value of greater contract

    • The CPUC should require investor-owned utilities to procure a prudent contract-risk margin, starting at 30%, to prevent under-procurement.

    • The CEC believes that the proposed Imperial Valley Transmission Upgrade Project offers significant benefits and recommends that it move forward expeditiously.

  • In mid-October, BLM issued a Decision Record and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Basalt Canyon Geothermal Pipeline Project, clearing the way for construction to begin. The project will build a pipeline to deliver about 3,600 gpm of geothermal fluid from two previously approved geothermal wells to two existing Mammoth Pacific, L.P. power plants in Mono County. The approved exploration projects and pipeline are located west of U.S. Highway 395 and north of California State Route 203 on federal geothermal leases in Inyo National Forest.

  • According to "Clearing California's Coal Shadow from the American West," a report published by the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, Western Resource Advocates, and Environmental Defense, in 2004, coal plants located in the Interior West supplied an estimated 20% of all electricity in California, twice the share that comes from renewables. Each year California’s existing out-of-state coal plants release as much carbon dioxide as 11 million cars. The report concludes that tapping the renewable energy and energy efficiency resources across the West could eliminate the need for all the new coal-fired power plants being proposed in the region.

  • California has a new green energy blog—the Green Coast Post. Launched in November 2005, the Green Coast Post is the public contact point of the Green Coast Foundation, a non-profit, public benefit organization dedicated to supporting and accelerating the growth of California's market for clean renewable energy. The blog's primary focus is to provide topical areas for discussion on renewable energy, including geothermal.

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For further information on geothermal activities in Colorado, contact:

Paul Bony
Delta-Montrose Electric Association
Tel: (970) 240-1278

  • 11 January 2006 - Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) is sponsoring a Renewable Energy Summit in Denver. The goal of the event is to increase understanding of the role of energy in America's national security and economic prosperity; provide information regarding renewable energy research, development, and production; and discuss the next steps for renewable energy in Colorado and the nation. The summit has reached the maximum number of registrations. To be placed on the wait list.

  • Published in December 2005, the "Handbook on Renewable Energy Financing for Rural Colorado" seeks to expand the use of renewable energy in the agricultural sector, including geothermal. The Handbook serves as a starting point for farmers and ranchers to decide whether to pursue the development of renewable energy projects. It describes commercially available technologies that have potential rural application, covers financing issues, discusses case studies, and lists additional resources. While prepared for the Colorado Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation (OEMC), the Handbook would be helpful to other states.

    Also commissioned by OEMC is a "Distributed Wind Generation Study For Northeast Colorado" which was released in December 2005. The study determines large wind turbines' ability to connect to a typical distribution system in northeastern Colorado, using the Highline Electric Association’s distribution grid. Geothermal developers in the region may find it useful.

  • Lakewood High School students can now learn about energy issues in their community. Teacher Matthew Brown's "Introduction to Alternative and Renewable Energy" class covers energy efficiency, solar, wind, hydrogen, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, and nuclear energy. The new course earned Brown the 2005 Renewable Energy Teacher Award from the NREL Office of Education Programs. For more information.

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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

No news.

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

Gerry Galinato
Energy Division,
Idaho Department of Water Resources
Tel: (208) 287-4897
  • 5-6 January 2006 - The Intermountain West Geothermal Consortium (IWGC), whose mission is to support national energy security through research into and development of under-utilized geothermal resources, will meet in Boise. Authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the IWGC is made up of Boise State University, Idaho National Laboratory, the University of Idaho, the Desert Research Institute, the Energy and Geosciences Institute, and the Geo-Heat Center. For more information, contact Sarah Bigger, IWGC Associate Director, at

  • 18-25 January 2006 - The Idaho Energy Division is holding several free workshops across the state to help farmers and rural small business owners learn how to apply for U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Bill funding for renewable energy projects. For more information.

  • U.S. Geothermal, Inc. signed a drilling contract for Raft River with Circle 4 Drilling LLC of Conifer, Colorado on 21 December. The drilling program includes plans to deepen two existing injection wells and drill an additional leg in two of the five existing production wells. The two deepened injection wells are expected to more than double the injection capacity of the field. The improved production wells are expected to produce higher temperature fluid and provide more than double their current rated energy capacity. Drilling is scheduled to start in mid-February and continue early summer. For more information.

    Earlier in December, U.S. Geothermal, Inc. entered into a fixed price engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with Ormat Nevada, Inc. to supply equipment and construct the first in a series of planned geothermal power plants at Raft River. The plant design incorporates Ormat's proprietary power generation technology with water cooling for maximum efficiency. The output of the plant will meet the power delivery requirements of the first 10 MW, 20-year Firm Power Sales agreement between U.S. Geothermal, Inc. and Idaho Power Company. For more information.

  • On 29 November, Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) geothermal staff attended a meeting in Ontario, Oregon to discuss onion dehydration using geothermal energy. The Geo-Heat Center will conduct a study to address the economic feasibility and size of a facility, energy requirements, availability of geothermal resources, and a cost estimate. A second meeting is tentatively planned for early January. A similar meeting with onion growers is also planned in Southwest Idaho in the near future.

  • On 21 November, IDWR geothermal staff met with Mountain Home Air Force Base personnel and other stakeholders to discuss the potential use of geothermal energy on the base. A deep exploration well drilled to 4,403 feet in 1986 encountered a temperature of 93°C. The AFB is very interested in a conducting a feasibility study to determine if it can use geothermal resources to supply some of its direct use energy needs. The military is also interested in exploring power generation potential on land the AFB owns southeast of Boise.

  • On 9 November, the IDWR geothermal staff held the second Valley County-City of Cascade Geothermal Energy Steering Committee meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to continue educating the committee and to develop the community geothermal strategic plan.

    The committee heard technical presentations from John Westra (IDWR, Western Region), who gave an overview of Idaho water rights as they pertain to geothermal development; Brian Dickens (Idaho Commerce and Labor), who spoke about business and economic opportunities, and the availabilities of grants for the community; and Virginia Gillerman (Idaho Geological Survey), who discussed the benefits of geological mapping to Valley County and the City of Cascade. The committee also heard from Dan Hand (Chevron Energy Solutions) who presented information about his company’s commitment to geothermal development worldwide. Lane Jolliffe (staff for U.S. Representative Butch Otter) was present and pledged support from Representative Otter’s office toward the community’s efforts in developing geothermal resources. The Idaho Energy Division discussed the road mapping process in developing the strategic plan.

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No news.

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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

No news.

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No news.

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For further information on geothermal activities in Nevada, contact:

Christy Morris
Program Manager - Oil, Gas, and Geothermal
Nevada Division of Minerals
Tel: (775) 684-7045

  • Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Power gave Nevada Geothermal Power Inc.'s (NGP) Blue Mountain Power Proposal "Tier 1" status. As a result, NGP can negotiate a contract with the utility based on its proposal to supply 30 MWe. NGP is also assessing other opportunities in the bulk power market with major industrial energy consumers. For more information.

    NGP has completed Phase I of its drilling program at the Pumpernickel Geothermal Project. Temperatures in wells continue to be measured with wellbore PVTG-3 providing the highest at 81°C (178°F). Drill cuttings were sent to the Nevada Bureau of Mines and water samples to Thermochem Labs for analysis. For more information.

  • On 14 November, Ormat commissioned the first geothermal power plant to be built in Nevada under the state's RPS legislation, a mere eight months after breaking ground. Formerly called Galena 1, the plant was renamed in honor of Governor Kenny Guinn’s energy advisor Richard “Dick” Burdette Jr. who passed away in April 2005. The 20-MW Richard Burdette Geothermal Power Plant increases Steamboat Geothermal Complex's total output supplied to Sierra Pacific Power to 45 MW. For more information.

    Ormat received the "Governor’s Distinguished Business of the Year" award for 2005. Governor Kenny Guinn and Lieutenant Governor Lorraine Hunt presented the Award to Daniel Schochet, Vice President of Ormat, at the Governor’s Industry Appreciation Dinner in Reno on 8 November. The Award is given to companies that exemplify good corporate citizenship. For more information.

  • Powered by Renewables (PBR) was formed in late November 2005 to develop, manage, and sell utility-scale renewable energy projects. PBR works with all renewable technologies including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and hybrid resources. Projects are organized as LLCs with PBR acting as the majority equity partner. PBR also offers consulting services, including site selection, permitting, financing, government affairs, and marketing and public relations programs.

    PBR is led by Tim Carlson, former Executive Director of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development and Nevada Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Task Force member. Other key team members are Sig Rogich and Lee Haney of The Rogich Communications Group. PBR is headquartered in Las Vegas with satellite offices in Reno and Incline Village.

  • For more information on geothermal activities in Nevada: Nevada Geothermal Update.

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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

No news.

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North Dakota

  • Basin Electric Power Cooperative, which supplies electricity to the Dakotas and other Midwestern and Western states, has set a goal of obtaining 10% of its energy from wind, ethanol, and other renewable resources by 2010. Co-op members unanimously approved the goal at Basin's annual meeting in Bismarck on 2-3 November. Basin currently generates 87 MW of electricity from renewable sources including wind, waste heat, and ethanol. It would need about 205 MW to meet its goal (Source: "Basin Electric Power Cooperative sets renewable energy goal" by James MacPherson, Grand Forks Herald, 4 November 2005).

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No news.

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For further information on geothermal activities in Oregon, contact:

Carel C. DeWinkel
Conservation Division,
Oregon Department of Energy
Tel: (503) 378-6099

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South Dakota

No news.

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For further information on geothermal activities in Texas, contact:

David Blackwell
Southern Methodist University
Tel: (214) 768-2745

Maria Richards
Southern Methodist University
Tel: (214) 768-2749

  • 13-14 March 2006 - The Texas Geothermal Working Group will hold a specialized meeting at Southern Methodist University in Dallas on the development of oil and gas waste fluid for electrical production. For more information, contact Maria Richards at

  • Over 70 people from six states attended the first meeting of the Texas Geothermal Working Group in Dallas on 7 November. The meeting summary, notes, and speaker presentations are available online.

    Meeting participants from the oil and gas industry (O&G) were interested to learn about the potential of using heat from the waste water that is pumped to the surface with oil and gas. By working with the O&G, the cost of developing geothermal in the area is reduced substantially since the wells and fluids already exist. With the new turbine technology discussed at the meeting by Ormat and United Technology-Carrier, fluids with temperatures as low as 210°F and flow rates as low as 500 gpm can be used to generate electricity. Texas currently has a potential of producing over 400 MW of electricity from waste water being discharged by oil and gas wells.

    Texas's geothermal resources were last estimated in the early 1980s by the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology. Since then there has been little geothermal energy use apart from ground source heat pumps. Geothermal development could contribute to rural economic growth by helping rural areas keep and create jobs in agriculture, aquiculture, mechanical engineering, and the oil and gas industry.

    The next meeting of the Texas Geothermal Working Group is scheduled for Fall 2006.

  • On 30 November, Austin became the first city to enter a national race to obtain half of its electricity from clean renewable energy resources. "The Energy Freedom Challenge" encourages cities to accelerate homegrown clean energy technologies. An award ceremony, complete with Green Carpet, will be held in Fall 2006, and one city awarded the Energy Freedom Progress Prize. The Texas MSR Partnership proposed the Energy Freedom Challenge to DOE and was awarded funding for the Challenge. Solar Austin will take the lead in the Energy Freedom Challenge in Texas, and encourage other cities to join the competition.

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

Bob Blackett
Senior Geologist, Utah Geological Survey
Tel: (435) 865-8139

  • PacifiCorp has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy the output of a 42-MW geothermal electric power plant near Cove Fort. Anticipated to be online by 31 December 2007, the geothermal project was selected through PacifiCorp's Request for Proposals 2003-B for up to 1,100 MW of cost effective renewable resources. Amp Resources LLC will develop, own, and operate the project. The plant will be built on the site of the 5-MW Harry Bonnett Geothermal Generating Station which Amp Resources acquired from the City of Provo and the Utah Municipal Power Authority in June 2003. PacifiCorp operates as Utah Power in Utah. For more information.

  • In a 11 December opinion piece in the Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City Representative Jackie Biskupski called for the state 's political to leadership consider enacting an RPS. Biskupski cited "Renewing Utah's Economy" by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which founds that a 10% RPS could, by 2020, provide the state $888 million in new capital investment, $63 million in new property tax revenues for local communities, and $16 million in income to ranchers and rural landowners. Utah has the potential to generate more than four times its current electricity needs from renewable energy. Currently, 95% of the state's electricity comes from coal-fired plants.

  • The Utah State Legislature Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee met on 9 November to discuss 2006 draft legislation to reauthorize the Utah Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit which sunsets 31 December 2006. The motion to recommend 2006 General Session draft legislation entitled "Renewable Energy Tax Credit" as a Committee bill was passed unanimously with Representatives Daw, Noel, and Wheeler absent.

  • The Utah State Energy Program (SEP) has added a link to its webpage that allows people to subscribe to its mailing lists. To receive notices about meetings, workshops, and funding, subscribe to the Utah SEP mailing lists.

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For further information on geothermal activities in Washington, contact:

Gordon Bloomquist
Geothermal, Hydrothermal and Integrated Energy Systems
Washington State University
Tel: (360) 956-2016

No news.

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For further information on geothermal activities in Wyoming, contact:

Ed Werner
Business Development Director,
Converse Area New Development Organization
Tel: (307) 358-2000

No news.

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The Geothermal newsletter is produced for the U.S. Department of Energy, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Geothermal Technologies Program under Contract No. DE-FG03-01SF22365. Neither the U.S. Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the U.S. Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the U.S. Government or any agency thereof.

The Geothermal Newsletter is produced by:
Liz Battocletti, Editor

345 South Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314 USA
Phone: 703 836 3654 / Fax: 703 836 6086

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