Geothermal in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, and Wyoming

U.S. states are hopping with geothermal news this week!

California: Fairfield Congressman Praises Geothermal
Colorado: Pagosa Verde to Drill Test Wells for Geothermal Generation Project
Colorado: Aspen Drilling Complete
Colorado: Capitol Gets Geothermal System
Hawaii: Draft Report Looks at Health and Safety Issues
Idaho: State Ripe with Potential, Gov’t Support Needed
Idaho Indiana: Phase Two of Ball State Geothermal System Approved
Illinois: Governor Quinn Signs GEO Thermal Definition into Law
Wyoming: Lone Star Geyser Studied

California: Fairfield Congressman Praises Geothermal
During a July speech on the California House floor, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a member of the Safe Climate Caucus, said geothermal is an extraordinary natural resource that is clean and abundant. “We have a critical natural resource opportunity in this nation, and it’s beneath the soil, beneath the ground, and it happens to be the heat of the earth,” Garamendi said.

The politician added that the largest geothermal installation in the world is located in California. Lake and Sonoma counties receive more than $11 million in annual tax revenue directly from The Geysers geothermal steamfield. The Geysers “provides energy for over 1.1 million people throughout the northern portion of the state,” Garamendi said. “A recent study estimates that the public benefits from geothermal energy produced in California and Nevada alone are worth more than $117 million annually. In this region, geothermal energy has proven itself as a job creator and a positive contributor to the local economy.” Garamendi.house.gov

Colorado: Pagosa Verde to Drill Test Wells for Geothermal Generation Project
There are no active geothermal power generation projects in Colorado, but businessman Jerry Smith’s company Pagosa Verde is working on two potential projects. Both have gained some public and private funding, and the company now plans to drill test wells at the site south of Pagosa Springs. The second site, located in Gunnison County, is doing geophysical testing. Pagosa Verde’s two projects could be attractive portfolio to investors, whereas a single project could carry more risk, noted an article on Durangoherald.com

Colorado: Aspen Drilling Complete
“Geothermal Test Well Shows Initial Positive Results,” according to a city of Aspen press release. The city announced completion of the final stages of a geothermal test well 1,520 feet deep, with water flowing at the 90 degree range. “The purpose of this project was to scientifically test what we’ve heard anecdotally over the years,” Jeff Rice, Utilities Energy Efficiency Manager for the City of Aspen told press. “There are stories from the mining days about possible conditions down there as well as talk from other drillers and consultants and the fact that this area is geothermally active, so it’s nice to have the tests to prove the hypotheses. It is exciting to know there could be another local renewable energy option for Aspen.” Future testing will be done by third parties and is expected to take several months. “If the scientific tests prove positive, the city will investigate the viability of a geothermal utility district in the future; however, there are no plans to develop this test site any further,” the press release says. Aspenpitkin.com; Aspendailynews.com.

Colorado: Capitol Gets Geothermal System
The Colorado State Capitol is going geothermal with a new heating and cooling system. While Idaho’s Capitol building is heated from an active geothermal hot springs, Colorado will be the first state capitol building to use geothermal for both heating and cooling. In the first year, the system will save an estimated $100,000 in utility costs. Gov. John Hickenlooper listed benefits of the project to media: “Several things — one, it (the Capitol) needs it, and there is a high return on the investment and resources,” he said. “Two, it is symbolic. Third, in terms of branding, the next time we are going out for Ardent Mills or another company to move here, it becomes part of that attraction to get people to move here.” Denverpost.com

Hawaii: Draft Report Looks at Health and Safety Issues
A draft report was released on health and safety issues associated with geothermal energy at the Puna site on the Big Island. The report addressed air, soil and water monitoring, as well as emergency response. Members of the community, with various opinions about geothermal, contributed to the work. The group was formed at the request of Mayor Billy Kenoi, and about $50,000 was allocated toward the effort.

The report lists seven recommendations for the county: (1) Undertake a comprehensive health study; (2) Conduct a “meta-analysis” on the effects of hydrogen sulfide; (3) Establish a better monitoring system; (4) Evaluate effects on drinking water and near-shore ocean environment; (5) Ensure the issue is studied by independent experts; (6) Study potential contamination at the old HGP-A well; and (7) Strengthen public communication and alerts.

A public meeting will be held Aug. 15 at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility. The draft is posted at www.accord3.com/pg68.cfm. The final is expected by September 1. Hawaiitribune-herald.com; Westhawaiitoday.com

Idaho: State Ripe with Potential, Gov’t Support Needed
An article on Magicvalley.com calls Idaho “a state ripe with geothermal power potential,” noting the 2,000 MW potential at 16 sites as given in the 2006 Western Governors’ Association Geothermal Task Force report. The Walker Ranch Energy site has drilling underway by ThermaSource, while US Geothermal’s Raft River geothermal plant has been in operation since 2007. Walker Ranch developers spent five years studying the geology of the Raft River area, Trent Yang, project manager for AMG Trust National Bank told press. Yang has applied for federal renewable energy tax credits: “If there are things that the state government can do to help alleviate some of those up-front costs, or to take it on with the developer, I think you’ll see more appetite for geothermal development in whatever state does that,” Yang said.

Idaho Indiana: Phase Two of Ball State Geothermal System Approved
Ball State University’s project to create a geothermal system is the largest of its kind in the nation. The second phase of the project was just approved, and the state has appropriated $30 million to move forward. Phase two of the project includes drilling 1,020 boreholes in the west campus field and parking lot. A former soccer field was just re-sodded following phase one, which included 1,800 boreholes. The board of trustees also approved a $339-million general fund budget for 2013-14, though funding of the geothermal energy system is separate from the university’s general fund. Thestarpress.com

Illinois: Governor Quinn Signs GEO Thermal Definition into Law
By Sustainable Energy Coalition, source: Geothermal Exchange Organization — Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed SB 1603 into law. The legislation contains language that removes impediments to the promotion and financing of geothermal heat pumps in the state. For complex reasons, the language amends the Illinois Finance Authority Act, the Illinois Power Agency Act and the Public Utilities Act. The new language adds to prior definitions of “energy efficient” by tying the term to reductions in thermal energy use: Energy Efficiency also includes measures that reduce the total Btus of electricity and natural gas needed to meet the end use or uses. The new definition encompasses GHPs for the first time in Illinois, recognizing them as an energy efficient technology. The upshot is that SB 1603 now allows Illinois investor-owned utilities to promote the use of GHPs under the state’s Energy Efficient Portfolio Standard. IOUs will be able to help finance GHP installations, with reimbursement from a fund set up under the state’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard. In addition, the Illinois Finance Authority can now issue bonds for energy efficient projects with GHPs.

Wyoming: Lone Star Geyser Studied
A study of Lone Star Geyser at Yellowstone National Park is providing scientists with insight on the nature of eruptions. In a week-long experiment, co-authors measured activity at the predictable geyser which erupts every three hours. “The predictability of geysers makes them an ideal test bed for figuring out how eruptions work,” co-author Shaul Hurwitz, research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey told press.

Hurwitz and others discovered Lone Star has four distinct phases. Data was measured by water discharge, ground motions, seismic waves and sound waves, and scientists recorded high-speed visible and infrared video. The findings were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth.

An article on Livescience.com describes the four phases: “As pressure builds up underground, a “preplay” phase, with pulses of steam and water, signals the coming outburst. Then, the eruption starts, with water and steam fountaining at 36 to 63 mph (58 to 101 km/h). The researchers tracked particles in the jetting water with the high-speed cameras to calculate the speed. A quiet post-eruption phase follows, finishing with a recharge phase while the geyser cone refills.”

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