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spacerMarch 2007, Issue No. 27


Federal Update
Geothermal cut from Administration's budget for two years running
BLM update: new regs and EIS
Geothermal Calendar of Events
Current Solicitations
National News
State Roundup

Alaska
Arizona
California
Colorado
Hawai'i
Idaho

Oregon
South Dakota
Texas
Utah
Washington
Wyoming


Capitol Building
Federal Update


Fiscal Year 2007 funding

  • The Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2007 Supplemental Appropriations bill, S. 965, which the Senate passed on 30 March 2007, funds the Department of Energy (DOE) geothermal energy research and development program at $22.762 million, up from current funding of $5 million. The $121.6-billion emergency spending bill calls for troop withdrawal from Iraq. President Bush has repeatedly said he will veto any legislation that sets a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq. The bill now goes to conference. A final measure is expected after the Easter recess.

Geothermal in the FY08 budget

  • On 23 March 2007, the Senate approved its FY08 budget resolution. The resolution includes an amendment proposed by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to fund geothermal research and development at $50 million.

  • In addition to zeroing out DOE's Geothermal Technologies Program, the President's FY08 budget proposes to eliminate two key revenue provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Section 224 stipulates that 25% of geothermal bonuses, rents, and royalties be paid to counties. Section 234 puts 25% of geothermal bonuses, rents, and royalties into the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Geothermal Steam Act Implementation Fund from 2006 through 2010 to expedite geothermal development. The Administration's FY08 budget would return to splitting geothermal bonuses, rents, and royalties 50/50 between the State and the Treasury.

    For more information:

    DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) FY 2008 Budget Request Documents.

    Department of the Interior Fiscal Year 2008 Interior Budget in Brief.

  • In the President's FY08 budget, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program is funded at $19 million for guaranteed loans and $15 million for grants, up $11 million from the original authorization of $23 million.

Production Tax Credit extension

  • The renewable energy industry is seeking a long-term extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) beyond its expiration date of 31 December 2008. Extending the PTC is challenging in the pay-as-you-go Congress.

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) supports extending the PTC with a lower cost. One idea would be to decrease the amount of the PTC over time.

    In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee on 29 March 2007, MidAmerican Energy Co. president, Todd Raba suggested a long-term extension of the PTC coupled with gradually decreasing the credit from 1.9 ¢/kWh back to its original 1.5¢/kWh. Corporate parent MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company's CalEnergy owns and operates 340 MW of baseload geothermal energy in Southern California with the potential to produce as much as 2,000 additional MW of baseload power. For more information on the hearing.

  • According to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, the administration does not support a long-term extension of the PTC due to its impact on the budget.

National renewable portfolio standard

  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) plans to introduce legislation creating a 15% RPS by 2020.

  • In testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on 7 February 2007, Energy Secretary Bodman said that he would urge President Bush to not sign national renewable portfolio standard legislation, adding that he thinks it is a matter for the states.

  • H. R. 969 - Introduced by Representative Tom Udall (D-NM) on 8 February 2007, the bill requires utilities to provide 20% of their power from renewable energy by 2020, authorizes a retail electric supplier to satisfy such requirements through renewable energy credits, and provides for energy credit trading or borrowing among suppliers. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

In the Senate

  • S.701 - Strategic Energy Fund Act of 2007- The bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to impose a temporary oil profit fee, using the fees collected to provide a Strategic Energy Fund, expand certain energy tax incentives, and for other purposes. Introduced by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), the bill has been referred to the Committee on Finance.

  • S.761 - America COMPETES Act - The bill would invest in innovation and education to improve the competitiveness of the United States in the global economy. Introduced by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) on 5 March 2007, the bill focuses on three goals: increasing spending on federal scientific research, improving science education, and "developing an innovation infrastructure." It has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders.

  • S. 1020 - Creating Renewable Energy through Science and Technology (CREST) Act - The bill is a move toward energy independence through a coordinated development of renewable energy sources, including wave, solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels production. Introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on 28 March 2007, the bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

2007 Farm Bill

  • Title IX of the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) proposed 2007 Farm Bill reauthorizes the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program. Over 10 years, the grant portion would be funded at $500 million; loan guarantees at $210 million. For more information.

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Geothermal cut from Administration's budget for two years running

To paraphrase the great Yogi Berra, "It's like deja vu all over again." DOE's geothermal program has been zeroed out in President Bush's FY08 budget for the second consecutive year.

According to DOE spokeswoman Christina Kielich, "The Department of Energy has not requested funds for geothermal research in our fiscal-year 2008 budget. Geothermal is a mature technology. Our focus is on breakthrough energy research and development."

Such action is incomprehensible given geothermal energy's significant potential for the country. Several recent studies have amply demonstrated geothermal's enormous potential given research and development support from the Federal Government:

  1. The Future of Geothermal Energy "The Future of Geothermal Energy – Impact of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) on the United States in the 21st Century" - The accessible U.S. enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) resource base is greater than 13 million quads or 130,000 times the current annual consumption of primary energy in the United States. With a reasonable investment in R&D, EGS could provide 100 GWe or more of cost-competitive generating capacity in the next 50 years. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, January 2007)

  2. "An Assessment of Geothermal Resource Development Needs in the Western United States" - Geothermal is an underestimated, under-reported, under-explored, and under-studied natural resource that could have a large impact on America’s future energy supply. The unidentified resource base is a significant near-term target of opportunity with up to 150,000 MW. (Geothermal Energy Association, January 2007)

  3. Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.: Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions from Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 2030 - The 200-page landmark report finds that renewable energy could provide 40-50% of the U.S. electric energy need projected for 2030 by the Energy Information Administration. Enhanced geothermal systems have an ultimate sustainable potential of 2.4 TW. Long-term geothermal energy development could displace a significant fraction of fossil-fueled power generation in the U.S., as well as much of the 2.3+ billion metric tons per year of carbon dioxide emitted by conventional fossil fuel-fired power sources in the U.S. today. (American Solar Energy Society, January 2007)

  4. "Geothermal—The Energy Under Our Feet: Geothermal Resource Estimates for the United States" - Oil and gas fields co-produce tremendous quantities of hot water which could be used to produce power using geothermal technology. Large undeveloped geopressurized gas and hot water resources in Texas, Louisiana, and the Gulf region could support as much as 70,000 MW of new power production by 2025. (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, November 2006)

  5. Western Governors' Association Geothermal Task Force Report - The western States have almost 13,000 MW of geothermal energy capacity that can be developed at specific sites within a reasonable timeframe. Of the total, 5,600 MW are considered viable for commercial development by 2015. (Western Governors’ Association Geothermal Task Force, January 2006)

Related articles:

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BLM update: new regs and EIS
  1. The new Geothermal Regulations are in the final stages of internal review and approval with an anticipated publication date of 30 March 2007, or shortly thereafter. BLM and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are in the process of developing and scheduling public workshops on implementing the revised regulations. Workshops are planned at several locations in the western United States in early June shortly after the regulations become effective.

    BLM has begun work to prepare for the first competitive lease sales under the new regulations which are tentatively planned for early June. The lease parcels to be offered will be those lands that were requested for Known Geothermal Resource Area (KGRA) sales prior to the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

    For more information on the new geothermal regulations, contact Kermit Witherbee, National Geothermal Program Manager, Division of Fluid Minerals, BLM at (202) 452-0385 or Kermit_Witherbee@blm.gov.

  2. The BLM-USFS Geothermal Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), including the high priority Geothermal Lease Backlog Elimination, continues to rapidly ramp-up. The project covers 11 western states and Alaska.

    Pre-scoping is underway and continues with state geological surveys, energy offices, and water resources departments; interest groups; development entities; and utilities. Work also continues with federal partners and cooperators, BLM and USFS field offices, and geothermal specialists.

    Two important considerations emerged in pre-scoping and recent state, federal, utility, and regulator workshops: (1) the conditions, costs, and time-scale of "Interconnection of renewables to the existing transmission grid," and (2) the conditions, costs, and time-scale of "Integration of renewables into a utility's system." Both vary by state, region, and utility, and are policy- and regulatory-based.

    While previously lumped together under transmission, the two issues are much more complex than simply locating a transmission line. The bottom line: understanding and clarifying both Interconnection issues and Integration issues clearly is key to streamlining and speeding connection of renewables into the electrical systems of the West, and will be included in the issues analyzed.

    Contractor selection and award were made in early March 2007.

    For more information on the programmatic EIS, contact Jack G. Peterson, National Project Manager, BLM at (208) 373-4048 or Jack_G_Peterson@blm.gov.

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National News
  • 1-4 April 2007 - Several papers regarding geothermal energy will be presented at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Annual Convention and Exhibition in Long Beach, California.

  • 18-19 April 2007 - Due to budget uncertainties, the 2007 GeoPowering the West Annual State Summit scheduled to take place in Lakewood, Colorado has been postponed.

  • 4 May 2007 - The Utility Geothermal Working Group (UGWG) will hold a post-Utility Energy Forum workshop on "Geothermal Heat Pump Economics from the Customer and Utility Perspectives" in Tahoe City, California. The workshop will train participants on using the energy calculations tool to determine the benefits and costs of geothermal heat pump (GHP) programs. Comparisons of building energy use with GHP and conventional HVAC and case studies of GHP implementation by utilities will also be presented. For more information.

  • 10 May 2007 - The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) will hold a West Coast Geothermal Finance and Development Workshop in San Francisco to bring together professionals in the geothermal community. The workshop will cover the issues and strategies involved in identifying and developing geothermal resources in the United States, as well as approaches and considerations for financing geothermal projects. For more information.

  • Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the availability of $176.5 million in loan guarantees and $11.4 million in grants to support investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency loan and grant program provides loan guarantees and grants to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for the purchase and installation of renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements. Applications for grants must be postmarked no later than 18 May 2007. Loan applications and grant-loan combination applications are due 2 July 2007. For more information.

  • USDA has launched a new web-based tool designed to make energy-related activities from across the agency easily accessible from a single place. The Energy Matrix is a comprehensive collection of information on all of USDA's energy-related programs, research efforts, funding opportunities, and technical assistance. Interested parties can search by agency, technology type, and program.

  • DOE's GeoPowering the West has developed an aggressive outreach program for 2007 to encourage public and cooperative power utilities in the western states to widen the geothermal component of their electric supply. The Western Area Power Administration is partnering with the American Public Power Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association to leverage the effort.

    Outreach will specifically seek to boost installation of geothermal heat pumps (also called ground source heat pumps). The Ground Source Heat Pump Guidebook has been updated and now offers tools to calculate energy savings and carbon emission reduction from installing GHPs in individual setups. For more information, contact Guy Nelson, Director, Utility Energy Forum at (541) 994-4670 or GNelson181@aol.com.

  • Increased deployment of renewable energy—driven by state renewables portfolio standards—will not dramatically increase electricity rates finds a report released on 7 March 2007 by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "Weighing the Costs and Benefits of State Renewables Portfolio Standards: A Comparative Analysis of State-Level Policy Impact Projections" synthesizes the results of several state-level RPS cost-impact analyses. "These studies have been conducted by a wide range of organizations, and persuasively demonstrate that state-level RPS policies need not break the bank," says report co-author Ryan Wiser. For a PowerPoint presentation summarizing key findings from the study.

  • On 26 February 2007, five western states launched the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative, a joint effort to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. The governors of Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and California have made a commitment to identify specific greenhouse emission reductions levels and a market-based approach for implementing those targets. The initiative is akin to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which was created by several Northeast and mid-Atlantic states.

  • On 15 February 2007, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) adopted a new regulation that will allow greater access to transmission lines for power generators of all types, including renewable energy. Order No. 890 requires public utilities to work with the North American Reliability Corporation to develop consistent methods of calculating the available capacity and to publish those calculations to increase transparency. It also calls for open, coordinated, and transparent planning on both local and regional levels. The new rule applies to all public utility transmission providers, including regional transmission organizations and independent system operators, and follows reforms proposed by FERC in May 2006. For more information.

  • The Interwest Energy Alliance has developed a map showing all grid-connected renewable energy, including geothermal, projects in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. The interactive Project Locator uses Google Maps to show projects located in the six states that might supply power to states outside the region, e.g., the Dixie Valley geothermal project. Members of the Interwest Energy Alliance support state-level public policies that harness the West's abundant and inexhaustible renewable energy and energy efficiency resources.

  • In response to increased demand, on 14 February 2007, Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls, Inc. announced its expansion in the design, installation, and servicing of geothermal and other renewable sources as options for customers. Don Albinger, a 25-year Johnson Controls veteran, will lead a team dedicated to the development of the company's renewable offerings to state, local, and federal government agencies; school districts; hospitals; and private industry. Johnson Controls installed the geothermal space heating system at the Utah State Prison in Bluffdale. For more information.

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State Roundup

Alaska

For further information on geothermal in Alaska, contact:

David Lockard
Alaska Energy Authority
Tel: (907) 269-4541
Email: DLockard@aidea.org

  • 24-26 April 2007 - The Alaska Geothermal Working Group will meet during the Rural Energy Conference 2007 in Fairbanks. The meeting is supported by DOE's GeoPowering the West. For more information, contact David Lockard.

  • News from the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA):

    • AEA has completed a draft desktop study of the feasibility of providing geothermal power to Nome from Pilgrim Hot Springs. The final version will be presented with an analysis of alternative energy and fossil fuel options for power generation in Nome in June 2007.

    • The final version of the Manley Hot Springs Geothermal Project Scoping Assessment was sent to the community in March 2007. The report was funded by DOE's GeoPowering the West and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and prepared by Millennium Energy LLC.

  • In a 22 March 2007 floor statement made when introducing an amendment to increase geothermal funding in FY08 to $50 million, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recognized the important of geothermal technology installed at Chena Hot Springs to the state as a whole. "In a state, like Alaska, where electricity can cost 80 cents per kilowatt hour when generated from diesel fuel, geothermal power at an operating cost of perhaps one-sixth to one-eighth of that amount is a potential godsend," she observed. She added that 70% of villages in Alaska and many small towns in the American West lie above similar geothermal resources.

  • The Naknek Electric Association has contracted with Anchorage-based Denali Drilling to drill two test holes about 200-250 feet in depth to measure geothermal power generation potential. The group has proposed a 25-MW geothermal power plant and 424 miles of transmission lines. According to cooperative general manager Donna Vukich, geothermal power could cut Naknek's electricity costs by 70%, displace 3.5 million gallons of diesel fuel, and enable local canneries to expand (Source: "Naknek thermal energy studied. Power grid could serve up to 25 southwest villages" by Dustin Solberg, The Bristol Bay Times, 21 February 2007).

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Arizona

For further information on geothermal in Arizona, contact:

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

  • The Arizona Geothermal Working Group hosted a meeting on "Understanding Southern Arizona's Geothermal Resource" on 23 March 2007 in Tucson. The meeting provided participants with information on the location and temperature of geothermal resources in the southern part of the state and gave examples of cost effective uses. Case studies of proposed geothermal use in a greenhouse and from mining waters was also presented. The day concluded with a roundtable discussion on project development. The meeting was supported by Tucson Electric Power Company, DOE's GeoPowering the West, and Northern Arizona University. For more information, contact Amanda Ormond.

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California

For further information on geothermal in California, contact:

Elaine Sison-Lebrilla
Geothermal Program Manager
California Energy Commission

Tel: (916) 653-0363
Email: esisonle@energy.state.ca.us

  • On 23 March 2007, the city of Logan voted to not buy electricity from Intermountain Power Plant Unit 3, a new coal-fired plant scheduled to go online in 2011. Logan plans instead to look at renewable energy, especially wind and geothermal. "We won't be heard on the world front, but we'll make a statement and somebody somewhere will hear it," said Municipal Council Chairman Steven Taylor. (Source: "Logan rejects new coal-energy contract," Associated Press, 23 March 2007).

  • On 20 and 21 March 2007, BLM-California held three open houses to gather comments on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS), which analyzes the proposed leasing of approximately 14,731 acres of BLM-managed public lands for geothermal exploration and development in the Truckhaven area in western Imperial County. BLM has received five geothermal lease applications for the area. Los Angeles-based Iceland American Energy wants to build three 45-MW plants in the area. The Notice of Availability of Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Truckhaven Geothermal Leasing Area was published in the Federal Register (Vol. 72, No. 32) on 16 February 2007. For more information.

  • On 15 March 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a contract between San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) and Esmeralda San Felipe Geothermal LLC to provide 20 MW of geothermal power by December 2010. Esmeralda Energy Company, a Nevada corporation, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Geo-Energy Partners-1983 Ltd.


    ThermaSource drill rig at Bottle RockThermaSource drill rig at the Bottle Rock geothermal power project at Cobb, CA (Photo: ThermaSource)

    US Renewables Group, LLC; Riverstone Holdings LLC; and The Carlyle Group announced on 13 February that they will provide growth capital to ThermaSource, a Santa Rosa-based provider of drilling, engineering, and consulting services to the geothermal energy sector. Funds will be used to acquire new and reconditioned drilling rigs.

    "We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to partner with two proponents of geothermal energy, USRG and Riverstone," said Lou Capuano, Chief Executive Officer of ThermaSource.

    "With their support, ThermaSource will have the resources required to meet the critical needs of an expanding market for geothermal drilling and consulting." For more information.

  • Southern California Edison's (SCE) renewable energy purchases and deliveries led the nation again in 2006. SCE delivered 12.6 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable, energy during 2006, including 7.5 billion kWh from geothermal. The company delivered enough renewable energy to serve 1.8 million homes for the entire year. SCE is currently soliciting 10-, 15-, or 20-year contracts from developers of renewable energy projects. For more information.

  • On 24 January 2007, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) approved the Tehachapi Transmission project, a $1.8-billion project that will increase grid access for large amounts of planned geothermal, solar, and wind generation in southern California. The California ISO has asked FERC to approve an innovative financing vehicle for new transmission lines which would allow utilities to invest in a transmission line and then have renewable generators pay for the line as they use it. For more information.

Colorado

For further information on geothermal in Colorado, contact:

Angela Crooks
Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation
Tel: (303) 866-2309
Email: angela.crooks@state.co.us

  • 19 October 2007 - The Colorado Geothermal Working Group will hold a day-long Investors' Forum in Montrose. Presentations will be made on policies, investment criteria, and opportunities in the areas of GeoExchange, low temperature applications, and electricity generation. For more information, contact Angela Crooks.

  • Governor Bill Ritter signed House Bill 1281, doubling the state's renewable energy standard to 20% by 2020, at the National Wind Technology Center in Boulder on 27 March 2007. The bill also caps the cost of electricity from renewable sources for ratepayers at 2% of a monthly bill for larger investor-owned utilities such as Xcel Energy and Aquila, and at 1% for rural electric co-operatives. The legislation sets a lower RPS target for rural co-operatives of 10% by 2020 if the cost of the power stays at or below 1% of the monthly bill of an average customer.

    According to a study by Environment Colorado, "Energy for Colorado's Economy: Creating Jobs and Economic Growth with Renewable Energy," the 20% by 2020 RPS will create a net increase of 4,100 person-years of employment, raise Colorado's share of gross domestic product by a net of $1.9 billion, result in total wages paid by a net cumulative total of $570 million, and cut power plant-related emissions in the state by 11%.

  • Colorado has the fourth largest geothermal resources in the country, according to a joint study issued by the Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation (OEMC) and the Colorado Geological Society (CGS). "With the advancement of geothermal technologies, Colorado may now be able to produce electricity, which has not been previously considered," said a statement from OEMC and CGS following a 31 January 2007 meeting of the Colorado Geothermal Working Group. The group, which is supported by DOE's GeoPowering the West, will deliver a Strategic Plan in June which identifies the challenges and opportunities for geothermal power production and direct use in the state. For more information.

  • The Colorado Geothermal Working Group and UGWG are forming a partnership to address the regulatory, financial, technological, and other issues related to accelerating the geothermal heat pump market in the state. The roadmap will outline strategies that the state working group and UGWG can pursue together to encourage more direct use and electricity generation projects. Success of the partnership will set the stage for similar efforts with other state geothermal working groups. The effort is supported by DOE's GeoPowering the West.

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Hawai'i

For further information on geothermal 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

  • A Catalog of Potential Sites for Renewable Energy in Hawaii was recently completed for the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. The Catalog was produced in response to a provision of Act 95, Session Laws of Hawaii 2004, which established a Renewable Portfolio Standard. It draws from public studies and geographic information systems data layers to collect statewide listings of prospective sites and information about the major resources, including geothermal, into a single comprehensive publication.

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Idaho

For further information on geothermal in Idaho, contact:

Gerry Galinato
Energy Division,
Idaho Department of Water Resources
Tel: (208) 287-4897
Email: Gerry.Galinato@idwr.idaho.gov
  • Boise-based U.S. Geothermal Inc. has been named the successful bidder for Idaho Power Company’s request for geothermal electricity. Negotiations for a 25-year power purchase agreement between U.S. Geothermal and Idaho Power for an annual average of 45.5 MW, with a seasonal peak of 52 MW will begin. Power will come from plants in Raft River, Idaho and Vale, Oregon. Raft River Units 1 and 3 are expected online in October 2007 and June 2009, respectively. Unit 1 will be eligible to receive the PTC equivalent to $1.7 million a year. Two plants in Oregon are scheduled to be online by November 2010 and January 2011. Institutional investors in U.S. Geothermal include Goldman Sachs & Co. and Winslow Green Growth Funds. For more information.

  • News from the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) Energy Division:

    • IDWR and the Valley County Geothermal Energy Team hosted a public meeting on 21 March 2007 in Cascade to discuss updates on the Cascade High School geothermal heat pump project, the Valley County geothermal exploration plans, and other items. Roy Mink, former DOE geothermal program manager, updated the Valley County group on DOE's geothermal budget and the status of the Raft River project. Mink is on U.S. Geothermal's Board of Directors.

    • About 60 members of the Idaho Geothermal Energy Working Group and Utah Geothermal Working Group toured the Raft River site south of Malta on 15 March 2007. The tour was led by Doug Glaspey and Kevin Kitz of U.S. Geothermal, Inc. which owns and is developing the geothermal facility. The first 13-MW unit is expected to go online this September or October.

      Raft River tour
      Steam rises from a flow measurement device at one of the wells at the Raft River geothermal power generation site. Members of the Utah and the Idaho geothermal working groups toured the Cassia County site on 15 March 2007. (Photo: Ken Neely, Idaho Department of Water Resources)

      After lunch, the Idaho contingent met at Raft River Rural Electric Cooperative to discuss the new 138 kV line the utility is building for the geothermal plant. The new line basically replaces the existing line on the utility right-of-way, with taller poles installed. The 34.5 kV line is on the top with the 14 kV line below that. The joint meeting was supported by DOE's GeoPowering the West.

    • The January-February 2007 edition of IDWR's newsletter, "Idaho Currents," featured a story on the City of Boise's geothermal injection well. Although drilled in 1999, the well could not be fully utilized until recently because a portion of the collection pipeline had not been completed. In early 2007, the collection link was finished, and the City now injects 100% of its spent geothermal water. Now, three of the four geothermal district heating systems in Boise re-inject spent water into the aquifer.

  • Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter issued Executive Order No. 2007-02 on 7 February 2007 establishing the Idaho 25 x 25 Renewable Energy Council. The council, which includes IDWR, will develop coordinated approaches to support the 25 x 25 Initiative for the state's agricultural and forestry sectors. The goal is to provide 25% of the state energy’s requirements from renewable sources by the year 2025.

  • The 2007 Idaho Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 13, adopting the integrated Idaho Energy Plan developed by the Legislative Council's interim Committee on Energy, Environment, and Technology. The first state energy plan since 1980 recommends less reliance on coal-fired and hydroelectric power and more on renewable energy sources.

    The interim Committee on Energy, Environment, and Technology recommended a more formalized, expanded role for the IDWR Energy Division to raise energy's profile in state government.

    The Idaho Legislature also passed HCR 25 which authorizes the Legislative Council to continue the Interim Committee on Energy, Environment, and Technology.

  • Ketchum city officials are moving ahead with a plan to restore the Warm Springs base of Bald Mountain to its former social and economic glory. The city is talking with Sun Valley Co., The Water Co.—which owns a major geothermal resource—the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, and the IDWR Energy Division about tapping into the area's geothermal resources (Source: "City, partners pledge to re-energize Warm Springs: Master plan calls for numerous improvement projects" by Rebecca Meany, Idaho Mountain Express , 23 February 2007).

    IDWR Energy Division staff attended a public meeting at Warm Springs on 28 February 2007 which drew 175 people. On the following day, IDWR met with city planners to discuss how IDWR could help with the project.

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Kansas

No news.

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Montana

For further information on geothermal in Montana, contact:

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

  • Montana will hold a State Geothermal Working Group meeting at the end of May. A number of renewable energy issues have been discussed by the state legislature; many requests for information on geothermal technologies have been received. For more information, contact Kathi Montgomery.

  • On 26 February, while touring the 50-MW natural gas-fired Basin Creek power plant in Butte, Governor Brian Schweitzer expressed interest in how a geothermal power plant could create jobs and contribute to economic development. The governor admitted that it is too early in the process to know if a geothermal plant could be built in the mining city, but says it is worth looking into (Source: "Governor Schweitzer proposes power plant in Butte," Furhana Afrid, 26 February 2007).

  • Montana Tech may use hot water from nearby flooded mine shafts to heat a new campus building. An engineering firm will examine the feasibility of using mine water in their design documents. The Bureau of Mines and Geology and the state geologist would occupy the new building. For more information, contact Kathi Montgomery.

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Nebraska

No news.

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Nevada

For further information on geothermal in Nevada, contact:

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

  • Italian geothermal company Enel, through its subsidiary Enel North America, Inc., announced on 20 March 2007 that it had acquired AMP Resources, LLC from AMP Capital Partners and a minority investor for an initial $90 million and subsequent performance-based payments. The acquisition includes one operating and four advanced stage geothermal development projects expected to add approximately 150 MW of capacity over the next four years. The purchase marks Enel's entry into the U.S. geothermal market. For more information.

  • In March 2007, Raser Technologies, Inc. secured additional geothermal rights in Nevada through two lease agreements. An independent geological study conducted by Dr. Carl F. Austin and Richard R. Austin identified five target drilling areas on Raser's properties suitable for the development of the company's advanced binary cycle geothermal power plants. The study found shallow resources at depths of approximately 1,500 feet with water temperatures of 225°F-275°F, as well as higher temperature resources at approximately 5,000 feet.

  • Sierra Geothermal Power Corp. completed exploration drilling at Reese River in Lander County in late March. Well 56-4 was successfully drilled to a total depth of 1,200 meters (3,930 feet). Testing for geothermal reservoir characteristics has begun with results pending. Partial funding for the drilling program was provided by DOE's Geothermal Resource Exploration and Definition (GRED) III program. Reese River has an estimated potential of 13-30 MW. Gary Thompson, president and CEO of Sierra Geothermal Power said that production drilling could begin by 2010 assuming favorable results. For more information.

  • Representatives from the state's three major military bases, geothermal industry, the Nevada Renewable Task Force, BLM, USFS, the Nevada Division of Minerals, and the Nevada Office of Energy participated in a renewable energy meeting on 21 February 2007. The meeting covered federal renewable energy and major energy efficiency projects, performance, and plans. Its objectives were to establish regular lines of communication and coordination among the groups, and identify local, state, and federal obstacles and resources. For more information, contact Christy Morris.

  • The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved on 8 February 2007 three energy contracts totaling 73 MW from geothermal power plants for Nevada Power Company, a subsidiary of Sierra Pacific Resources. The power will come from Nevada Geothermal Power, Inc.'s 25-MW Faulkner 1 Power Plant and Ormat Technologies, Inc.'s 24-MW Buffalo Valley Project and 24-MW Carson Lake Project. The three plants are expected to begin commercial production in 2010. The contracts will help Nevada Power Company meet the requirement of the state's renewable portfolio standard of 20% by 2015.

  • Vancouver, British Colombia-based Nevada Geothermal Power, Inc. raised US$13 million in the second tranche of its private placement in mid-February. Dundee Securities Corporation was lead underwriter on behalf of a syndicate which included Jacob & Company Securities Inc. The net proceeds of the offering will be used to fund further development at the Blue Mountain Geothermal site, development of other existing projects, and for working capital. For more information.

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New Mexico

For further information on geothermal in New Mexico, contact:

Michael McDiarmid
New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources
Tel: (505) 476-3319
Email: michael.mcdiarmid@state.nm.us

  • 13 April 2007 - The New Mexico Geological Society is holding its annual spring meeting in Socorro. The meeting's theme is "Alternative Energy: Geothermal Resources of New Mexico." Keynote speaker Jim Witcher will provide an overview of the state's geothermal resources. Fraser Goff will discuss environmental impacts of utilizing geothermal resources. For more information.

  • On 5 March 2007, Governor Bill Richardson signed two clean energy bills: Senate Bill 418, which increases the state RPS for public utilities from 10% by 2011 to 15% by 2015 and 20% by 2020; and House Bill 188, which creates a Renewable Energy Transmission Authority. The new seven-member authority will have the power to issue bonds to finance the construction of new transmission lines (and possibly energy storage facilities) to serve new renewable energy facilities that are not being served by the state's utilities. The developers of the renewable energy projects will pay fees for using the transmission lines, thereby helping to repay the bonds. For more information.

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North Dakota


Oklahoma

No news.

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Oregon

For further information on geothermal in Oregon, contact:

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

  • Senate Bill 373 would require that at least 25% of the annual retail electricity sales of each electric utility operating in Oregon be derived from new renewable energy resources by 2025. Testifying before the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on 6 March 2007, Governor Ted Kulongoski called the legislation "...the centerpiece of a five-bill package that will help Oregon accomplish what we know we need to do, and scientists tell us the whole world must do:  Shift from using carbon-based sources of energy to cleaner, renewable sources of energy." Three of the Governor's energy bills have passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. For more information.

  • In response to Governor Kulongoski's Executive Order 06-02, "Sustainability for the 21st Century," the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department (OECDD) has established the Renewable Energy Feasibility (REF) Fund to support feasibility studies for "community renewable energy projects." The REF Fund is designed to encourage widespread adoption of municipally-owned renewable energy projects that reduce Oregon's dependence on fossil-based energy sources and promote sustainable development for communities throughout the state.

    Grant funding totaling $150,000 is available from OECDD's Special Public Works Fund. The maximum grant award is $50,000 per study. Cities, counties, ports, tribes, and municipalities are eligible to apply. All interested applicants must first complete an Intake and Project Notification form to satisfy eligibility requirements of the Special Public Works Fund. The deadline for the Intake form is 4:00 p.m., 11 April 2007. For more information.

  • U.S. Geothermal Inc. has acquired additional geothermal energy rights in eastern Oregon, bringing its total holdings at Neal Hot Springs to 6,167 acres (9.6 square miles). Chevron Minerals drilled at the site in 1979. More recently, U.S. Geothermal has conducted gravity and magnetic surveys of the area. Twenty-six (26) MW of potential power from Neal Hot Springs was included in the company's successful proposal to Idaho Power Company.

  • On 13 March 2007, the Deschutes County Board of County Commissioners granted a Measure 37 waiver to James Miller's LPP Resources. The waiver precludes the development of a pumice mine, geothermal power plant, and about 100 homes on private land within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Measure 37 requires Oregon governments to compensate landowners when changes in zoning rules reduce the value of their properties, or to waive the rules. James Miller's LPP Resources is expected to appeal the decision (Source: "Commissioners reject development at national monument in Oregon," Associated Press, 14 March 2007).

  • In a Joint Memorial issued on 13 January 2007, the 74th Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon called on the U.S. Congress to extend the federal Production Tax Credit for renewable energy to 31 December 2018.

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South Dakota

No news.


Texas

For further information on geothermal in Texas, contact:

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


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

  • 12-13 June 2007 - With support from DOE's GeoPowering the West, the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Geothermal Lab will host the "2nd Geothermal Energy Utilization from Oil & Gas Development Conference" in Dallas. The international conference specializes in the enhancement of existing oil and gas wells for electrical production. Abstracts are due 1 May 2007.

    Geothermal energy can be extracted from the well fluids using newly designed compact turbines with binary fluids. These systems are now sized to fit single wells or multiple wells with an approximate fluid temperature differential of at least 120°F between produced and cooling temperatures.

    Data and economics will be presented to assist in developing a renewable

    SMU Geothermal Lab students show support for geothermal in rallySMU Geothermal Lab students rally at
    the State Capitol in February 2007
    (Photo: SMU Geothermal Lab)
    energy portfolio using existing wells. For more information.

  • In mid-February, State Representative Wayne Christian introduced legislation mandating that electric companies produce additional non-wind renewable power . HB 1214 requires that at least 500 MW of renewable energy capacity come from technologies other than wind by the end of 2014. Following a public hearing and testimony on 22 March 2007, the bill is pending in the House Committee on Regulated Industries Subcommittee on Renewable Energy and Transmission.

  • News from Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab:

    • On 13 March 2007, Maria Richards gave a well-received presentation to an audience of about 60 at the Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 on geothermal usage in Texas entitled "Over the top—Geothermal is Surfacing in Texas."

    • On 26-28 February 2007 the SMU Geothermal Lab participated in the Texas Energy Independence Week at the State Capitol in Austin. Texas Geothermal Working Group members Howard Rogers, Victor DeMarco, Bill Glass, Janet Abbott, Jim Murray, Gene McCain, and Russ Crosby staffed a booth and visited with legislative staff and representatives.

    • Maria Richards, Dave Blackwell, and Patrick Stepp of the SMU Geothermal Lab handed out flyers on using oil and gas wells to generate electricity and the upcoming June 2007 meeting at the NAPE Winter Expo in Houston on 1-2 February 2007. More than 13,000 people attended the event.

    • David Blackwell participated in the ENGINE (Enhanced Geothermal Innovative Network for Europe) Conference in Potsdam, Germany, on 9-12 January 2007. The conference focused on sedimentary basin development of geothermal energy, which is related to the Gulf Coast and Permian Basin .

    • Texas is working to get geothermal heat pumps, also known as GeoExchange, included in the sales tax exemption bill, HB 2148 (sales tax exemption for renewable energy technologies) and supporting its passage.

  • Richard Erdlac has left the University of Texas of the Permian Basin to accept a full-time position as Director of Geothermal Research and Commercialization for a new energy company. Energy America Geothermal, formed by companies in Midland, hired Erdlac to help support the company’s existing GeoExchange operations and expand its geothermal electric production efforts. For more information, contact Dr. Erdlac at (432) 618-8853 or richard@energyamericainc.com.

  • According to SMU geophysics professor David Blackwell, Texas has substantial geothermal power generation. "The actual resource base is over 100,000 megawatts; we just don't know how much we can access," Blackwell said in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "The point is there is enough geothermal to significantly add to the power inventory in Texas. Conservatively, there are tens of thousands of megawatts—it's huge" (Source: "State grants first geothermal energy lease along Gulf Coast" by Bill Hanna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 7 February 2007).

  • Ormat Technologies, Inc. was the winning bidder in Texas's first-ever geothermal lease sale, paying $55,645 for more than 11,000 acres of submerged coastal land. According to the Texas General Land Office, multiple bids were received for the land.

    Generating power from abandoned oil wells is a new technology which Ormat is currently testing at the DOE Rocky Mountain Oil Test Center in Wyoming. Ormat will experiment with a wide range of reservoir flow potential, from generating 200 kW to 200 MW (Source: "Geothermal lease winner Ormat expects to produce electricity from lease in two to three years" by Paul Wiseman, Midland Reporter-Telegram, 25 February 2007).

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Utah

For further information on geothermal in Utah, contact:

Bob Blackett
Senior Geologist, Utah Geological Survey
Tel: (435) 865-9035
Email: robertblackett@utah.gov

  • According to a recent article in The Salt Lake Tribune, "...in a time when President Bush has called in his State of the Union Address for an aggressive expansion of renewable energy, geothermal enjoys little support from the administration." According to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), "We should be doing everything we can to promote geothermal energy...It's a clean, renewable resource that's not affected by the price or supply of oil."

    A January 2006 Western Governors’ Association Geothermal Task Force Report found that Utah has several geothermal resource areas that could produce up to 230 MW of new capacity by 2015 economically, and up to 620 MW by 2025 (Source: "Renewable geothermal energy holds promise, but it gets little attention" by Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune, 11 February 2007).

  • Utah Clean Energy called the 2007 Legislative Session the most successful session to date for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. signed two bills in March 2007 which affect geothermal development:

    • Senate Bill 223, "Tax Amendments" - Provides corporate and individual tax credit incentives for residential and commercial renewable energy systems including geothermal electricity, direct use geothermal, and geothermal heat pump systems. The credit is retroactive to 1 January 2007.

    • House Bill 351, "Revolving Loan Fund for Certain Energy Efficient Projects" - Creates a $5-million revolving loan fund for K-12 schools and school districts to retrofit existing buildings and make energy efficiency upgrades to new buildings. In addition to loans, technical assistance will be provided to help public agencies and school districts conduct energy audits, design and implement energy efficiency projects, and maximize energy savings. The Utah Geologic Survey is tasked with establishing eligibility and prioritization criteria for disbursing fund monies.

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Washington

For further information on geothermal 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 in Wyoming, contact:

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

  • Ormat Technologies, Inc. and DOE are working on a joint $1-million project to generate power from unused hot water at the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center near Casper. Ormat will supply a binary geothermal power unit; DOE will install the unit and operate it for a year. The plant will be connected into the field electrical system and monitored for reliability and quality (Source: "Pulling more power from oil fields" by Noelle Straub, Star-Tribune Washington, 2 March 2007).

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