Featuring Geothermal Energy Association members Dewhurst Group, Enel Green Power, and Ormat Technologies

Geothermal Energy Association members are making headlines: A Dewhurst Group representative discusses social impact assessments. Enel Green Power has secured a loan for its Chile investments, including geothermal. Ormat Technologies has completed the Don A. Campbell geothermal plant in Nevada.

Photo from Dewhurst Group. Kara Dewhurst will be conducting a social impact assessment related to the Dewhurst Group’s geothermal work site in Colombia.

Dewhurst Group: Rethinking the Environmental-Social Impact Assessment Model
Enel Green Power: Loan Signed for Chile Investments
Ormat Technologies: Don A. Campbell Geothermal Power Plant Completed With 16-MW Output

Dewhurst Group: Rethinking the Environmental-Social Impact Assessment Model
By Kara Dewhurst ~ The following is a guest article, and the information and conclusions should not be attributed in any manner to the Geothermal Energy Association. GEA does not assume, and hereby disclaims, any liability that may result from reliance on this information.

Social impact assessments (SIA) have a long history within the development community as a way to evaluate the potential impacts of a wide variety of development projects on people. But existing models for SIAs are inadequate in many cases, and the geothermal industry has an opportunity to pioneer improved models and to help reduce potentially negative impacts that vary from place to place.

The impacts of development on people may be social, economic, political, or cultural. For example, it is estimated that millions of people have been displaced by the construction of large dams around the world, exacerbating already existing inequalities in many developing countries. From both a humanitarian and business perspective, these social costs must be accounted for; however, SIAs remain largely unregulated. The result is wide variance in the quality and thoroughness of the assessments that have been undertaken by governments, NGOs and private companies, and sometimes social impacts are not considered in the planning process at all.

In most cases, SIAs are carried out in conjunction with environmental impact assessments and reported as an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). This model has been widely adopted, including within the geothermal community. I believe that this model is largely inadequate in addressing the social impact of geothermal development in the developing world. The social component tends to play a minor role and is often conflated with environmental impacts.

Rather than SIAs being relegated to the field of “social entrepreneurship” or worse, used as a charitable gesture, I argue that it is in the business interests of governments and private companies to do a better job of incorporating SIAs into the planning process. We know from experience that everyone benefits when the interests of all people are included and when people are well informed.

There are still many challenges and unknowns that remain when conducting SIAs, especially for geothermal. There is no single protocol, not only because it is unregulated but also because geothermal projects are so site specific. It will take much more research and careful planning, but I am confident that geothermal can be a pioneer in the development community for reducing the negative impact on people and hopefully even improving the communities where we work.

Kara Dewhurst is Programs Director of Social Development for the Dewhurst Group, a GEA member. Ms. Dewhurst has an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Virginia and is currently completing her Ph.D., also in Sociology, with a focus on development.

Enel Green Power: Loan Signed for Chile Investments
Enel Press Release (Rome) January 7–Enel Green Power, through its subsidiary Enel Green Power Chile Ltda, has concluded an agreement with Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Chile (BBVA) for a 150 million US dollar loan to be used to partially cover its investment plan over the next few years in Chile.

The 5-year loan will be disbursed in the next months at an interest rate in line with the market benchmark and will be backed by a parent company guarantee released by Enel Green Power.

In Chile, Enel Green Power recently connected to the grid the Talinay and Valle de los Ventos wind farms, both with an installed capacity of 90 MW, and it is constructing Taltal, its biggest wind farm in the country (99 MW), for an investment of approximately 190 million US dollars. The company has also begun construction on its first solar park in the Country (Diego de Almagro, 36 MW) and, in the geothermal sector, Enel Green Power is exploring various concessions that have the potential for generating more than 100 MW.

Ormat Technologies: Don A. Campbell Geothermal Power Plant Completed With 16-MW Output
Ormat Press Release (RENO) January 6–New Power Plant Constructed in Nine Months Taps Low-Temperature Geothermal Resource in Nevada to Serve California Customers–Ormat Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:ORA) announced today that it completed the Don A. Campbell geothermal power plant in Mineral County, Nevada. The plant is producing its full capacity of 16 megawatts (net) and performing as expected as of December 6, 2013.

The Don A. Campbell facility, formerly Wild Rose, is receiving a full rate of $99 per megawatt hour with no annual escalation under the terms of the Power Purchase Agreement with Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA). SCPPA is reselling the power to Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and Burbank Water and Power (BWP). Ormat wheels the power from the Don A. Campbell plant to SCPPA over NV Energy’s transmission grid including the new One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line) recently placed in service, making Ormat the first independent power producer to use the ON Line to export renewable energy to customers in California.

“Completing the Don A. Campbell geothermal power plant and reaching full capacity is a historical milestone in our continued partnership with SCPPA to bring reliable, renewable geothermal power to California’s ratepayers,” said Yoram Bronicki, president and chief operating officer at Ormat. “We commend NV Energy for their success in making statewide transmission in Nevada a possibility, thereby allowing resources in northern Nevada to serve customers not only in southern Nevada but also in southern California through ON Line’s completion.”

With a low resource temperature of approximately 260 degrees Fahrenheit, the Don A. Campbell geothermal power plant features Ormat Energy Converter (OEC) technology, allowing for cost-effective power generation from one of the lowest temperature geothermal resources ever deployed on a utility scale by Ormat. The power plant was completed in nine months from start of mechanical construction to full output.

“Ormat’s holistic approach to geothermal development, matching power plant design to the specific characteristics of the geothermal resource through rigorous exploration and field development, allowed our team of experts to work together to develop this successful project,” Bronicki added. “The short construction timeline, followed by just one week of startup operation from initial synchronization to full power, is a testament to the quality of our products and our ability to execute on time and on budget.

“I’d like to extend gratitude to the Ormat team for their great effort that made this project a success and, with its completion, a symbol commemorating our late colleague Don A. Campbell. His talent and experience in the geothermal industry led to the identification of this very special field. He will truly be missed.”

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