Leading news: Legislation Needs “Good for Geothermal” Provisions

In this post:

*Geothermal Leaders and Newcomers Convene at GRC Annual Meeting and GEA Geothermal Energy Expo
*Senate Democrats’ New Bill has “Good for Geothermal” Provisions
*GEA Updates on SB 350 and Geothermal Electricity Sector
*Calpine Updates Wildfire Impact on The Geysers Geothermal Power Facilities
*Ormat Begins Operations at Don A. Campbell Phase 2 Geothermal Power Plant, Nevada
*U.S. Geothermal Confirms Reservoir at WPG Geysers Project
*Special Notice for the Geothermal Industry from Navy Geothermal Program
*BLM Requests Comments on Land Use in DRECP by Oct. 30
*CARB Seeking Comments on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
*RFP for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment: Non-Energy Research
*Sage Grouse Not An Endangered Species
*Former GEA President Appointed to Head Nevada PUC
*Unique Heat Pump Company Visits GEA
*“Stuff You Should Know” Calls Geothermal Energy “Earth’s Gift to Mankind”

GEA Geothermal Energy Expo 2015
GEA Geothermal Energy Expo 2015

Click below for this week’s leading geothermal news.

*Geothermal Leaders and Newcomers Convene at GRC Annual Meeting and GEA Geothermal Energy Expo
*Senate Democrats’ New Bill has “Good for Geothermal” Provisions
*GEA Updates on SB 350 and Geothermal Electricity Sector
*Calpine Updates Wildfire Impact on The Geysers Geothermal Power Facilities
*Ormat Begins Operations at Don A. Campbell Phase 2 Geothermal Power Plant, Nevada
*U.S. Geothermal Confirms Reservoir at WPG Geysers Project
*Special Notice for the Geothermal Industry from Navy Geothermal Program
*BLM Requests Comments on Land Use in DRECP by Oct. 30
*CARB Seeking Comments on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
*RFP for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment: Non-Energy Research
*Sage Grouse Not An Endangered Species
*Former GEA President Appointed to Head Nevada PUC
*Unique Heat Pump Company Visits GEA
*“Stuff You Should Know” Calls Geothermal Energy “Earth’s Gift to Mankind”

Geothermal Leaders and Newcomers Convene at GRC Annual Meeting and GEA Geothermal Energy Expo
The leading companies and individuals in the geothermal power industry today, as well as rising professionals and students, met this month for the GRC Annual Meeting and GEA Geothermal Energy Expo. The events were co-located at the Peppermill Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada, a hub for geothermal development and use in the Great Basin of the West. Joe Greco, GEA board chairman and Terra-Gen Power senior vice president provided remarks at the Opening Session, inviting innovative thinkers to rise to challenges of the geothermal industry such as lack of parity with low solar prices, and bringing to focus the geothermal opportunities that are available now and in the near future (see “Top 5 Reasons To Be Optimistic About Geothermal in the U.S.,” by Jennifer Delony, www.renewableenergyworld.com).

“Best in Show” exhibitors at the GEA Geothermal Energy Expo 2015 included: “Best in Show for Educational Materials,” awarded to The Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office’s Geothermal Technologies Office staff for their new attractive infographics and accompanying first-class aid on agency programs. The Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) initiative in particular seems to have inspired dynamic geothermal-based designs that were made into buttons for attendees to collect as flare.

GEA Geothermal Energy Expo 2015

“Best in Show for Best Giveaway” went to GeothermEx (GEA Members), a Schlumberger company involved with many of the geothermal projects around the world. GeothermEx held a drawing at their booth to give away an Espresso machine, and also gave away Espresso mugs to visitors.

GEA Geothermal Energy Expo 2015

“Best in Show for Technology Display” went to ITT Corp. A press release from ITT notes that the display includes “vertical and horizontal pumps used in geothermal power plants, Goulds Pumps vertical pumps, PumpSmart® flow control systems and its comprehensive range of repair and replacement services.” Skilled booth staff were on task giving demonstrations to attendees all week.

GEA Geothermal Energy Expo 2015

Attendees included the likes of the world’s leading geothermal developers, consultants, manufacturers, state and federal government representatives, students who are targeting geothermal as their career of choice at an increasing rate, as well as many who were coming to the official geothermal events for the first time.

Richard Beach is a sales engineer based in Phoenix with Nidec Motor Corporation and says the company has been selling motors in the geothermal market for some time without a marketing strategy. The company’s industrial motors were being purchased and placed into geothermal power plants all over the globe with its US Motors brand vertical and horizontal motors. A brochure was designed with an emphasis in targeting this industry. A decision was made to attend the GEA Expo to meet more people in the industry.

GEA Geothermal Energy Expo 2015
GEA Geothermal Energy Expo 2015

Warren Dewhurst’s company, The Dewhurst Group (GEA members), has a very active presence in two of the geothermal industry’s most exciting countries in the American region — both in Colombia and in Mexico — and Dewhurst says they rely on this event each year to do business. With several projects planned in the pipeline, he adds that “it may be time to create a Geothermal Energy Association in Colombia.”

The Technical Paper side of events included Roland Horne, Stanford University, discussing the latest in using tracers to understand geothermal reservoirs, which his team has done in labs using DNA silica balls. The next step is to field test the DNA tracers. (See “Balls of DNA Could Fix Geothermal Energy’s Biggest Problem,” www.wired.com.)

GEA Geothermal Energy Expo 2015

To see more from the events, through photos and additional geothermal community participation via social media, visit GEA on LinkedIn (linkedin.com/company/geothermal-energy-association), Facebook (facebook.com/geothermalenergyassociation), Twitter (@geoenergist) and more via our Web site at geo-energy.org.

PLUS: An article from POWER Magazine this week includes quotes from GEA members from our June 2015 “National Geothermal Summit.” See: http://www.powermag.com/geothermal-energy-is-new-technology-resetting-the-agenda/.

Senate Democrats’ New Bill has “Good for Geothermal” Provisions
The Senate Democrats have announced their energy and energy tax alternative, “The American Energy Innovation Act of 2015,” which marks out a strong position of seeking to unleash American innovation in energy, spurring new technologies and opportunities, enhancing the nation’s security and creating jobs while reducing pollution.

The new bill includes some “good for geothermal” provisions, including:

Subtitle K, known as “Geothermal Energy Opportunities,” is a set of sections that includes a range of provisions including national goals for geothermal, facilitation of coproduction, a cost-shared drilling program, a requirement for the BLM to set new priority areas, a reform of how revenues from geothermal leases are spent and noncompetitive leasing of adjoining areas.

Section 2141 and 2151 reform and recommit the DOE Loan Program.

Section 3001 explicits a carbon savings goal to reduce U.S. GHGs by 2% per year.

Sections 5001 and 5002 outline the Clean Electricity Production and the Investment tax credit. Power generation technologies that emit 25% less carbon than the nationwide average would qualify for these tax incentives, which also increase for power plants that are progressively cleaner.

Title V Subtitle E rescinds so-called “big oil tax loopholes,” and where these advantages also apply to geothermal (Section 5023 and 5024), the bill does not rescind them for geothermal, only for the oil majors.

Upon releasing the new bill, the senators said:

“By tackling energy efficiency in sectors ranging from trucks and buildings to the electric grid, we are targeting our best opportunities for job growth, consumer savings and carbon dioxide reductions,” Sen. Maria Cantwell said.

“Our country’s energy policy is out of sync with the industries that are redefining America’s energy future. Americans and their businesses are using clean energy at historic levels today. This legislation is a positive step toward modernizing our electric grid and creating opportunities for Americans to deploy their own clean energy and save money,” said Sen. Harry Reid, Democratic Leader.

“By making these investments and cleaning up our polluting energy sources, we are creating jobs, investing in a future in which our children can breathe clean air, and averting the worsening extreme weather and disasters caused by climate change. I support this legislation and will fight to make clean energy a priority for the Senate.”

“While Republicans continue to keep their heads in the sand when it comes to climate change, Democrats have put together a plan to make energy cheaper for consumers and at the same time foster a clean energy future that cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer.

“This bill pulls the best ideas from across the Democratic Caucus and is a refreshing reprieve from the tired Republican mantra of ‘drill baby, drill.’ That’s a slogan, not an energy policy. Republicans need to wake up to the fact that climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time and action must be taken to address it. The decisions we make in the next few years will have an incredible impact on our economy, our air quality, and nation’s energy security, and that’s why we should follow the Democratic path of proactive, bold action to create a clean energy future that safeguards our planet and works for the middle-class consumer.”

“The tax code plays an enormous role in energy policy, but the current system is a crazy quilt of laws that suffocates innovation,” said Sen. Ron Wyden.

“This bill is built around the proposition that the law ought to reward clean energy with incentives that spark innovation in the private economy. Our proposal makes it possible to get more clean, renewable energy for less money and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues to get it through the Senate.”

Provisions of the Democratic energy bill also address consumer access to their electricity data; a federal Energy Efficiency Resource Standard to save consumers $150 billion over the next 15 years; energy storage, clean energy and security of the grid; implementing recommendations from the Quadrennial Energy Review; clean energy technologies and international exports; cybersecurity research; job training and model energy workforce curriculum; Land and Water Conservation Fund; smart manufacturing technologies and more. See www.energy.senate.gov.

GEA Updates on SB 350 and Geothermal Electricity Sector
Benjamin Matek GEA staff — On Sept 11th SB 350 passed the California Legislature and is now on its way to the Governor to be signed into law where Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill before the global talks with the UN begin next month. SB 350 will have significant impacts on the electricity sector by increasing Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) target of 50% by December 31, 2030. Its expected geothermal power producers will win some of these new contracts over the next 15 years.

Additional details of the bill include other opportunities that could expand geothermal generation in California. The bill lists the first steps taken to create a regional ISO. The pro/cons will be studied and revisions to the ISO’s bylaws are to be no later than Dec. 31st, 2017. If a regional ISO is created this could open new regional markets to sell geothermal power.

While no specific language about the Salton Sea made it in the bill, language prioritizes renewable energy in areas of “high unemployment” threatened by “high emission levels of toxic air contaminants” was buried deep in the text which sounds a lot like boosting development at the Salton Sea.

Lastly, the bill states to the CPUC that they must create a diverse portfolio that properly values integration costs, new projects, emissions, employment and other values during procurement which if implemented correctly could tip the scale more fairly back toward geothermal power.

Calpine Updates Wildfire Impact on The Geysers Geothermal Power Facilities
Press Release (MIDDLETOWN, Calif.) Sept 28, 2015 — Calpine Corporation CPN, -0.49% is pleased to announce today that our geothermal power generation facilities at The Geysers in Lake and Sonoma Counties, California, have reopened to all employees after having been affected by a wildfire earlier this month. The Geysers had been operating with only essential personnel for the past two weeks due to the access restrictions imposed by CalFire as they fought to contain the Valley Fire. The Geysers is now generating about 540 megawatts of power for our customers.

We are proud to report that all employees and contractors were safely evacuated when the fire threatened The Geysers and that all our employees are accounted for. Our focus now turns to assuring the continuing safety of those who have returned to work and to supporting employees whose homes and families have been impacted by this devastating fire. We have implemented multiple employee assistance programs and have established an employee support fund, seeded with a $100,000 contribution from Calpine, wherein all donations will be matched by the company.

We recognize the devastation to the surrounding communities and are coordinating with local officials and agencies to assist in response and recovery efforts. As part of our ongoing efforts to support our neighbors, we have donated $100,000 to area charities, including the Lake County Search and Rescue Association, the Lake County Rising Valley Fire Relief Fund and the local chapter of the Red Cross. Calpine applauds the efforts of the first responders who continue to work hard to ensure the safety of The Geysers and the surrounding community, without whom we would not be able to return to the site today.

Regarding specific impacts to our facilities, as was previously reported, five of our fourteen facilities sustained damage to ancillary structures such as cooling towers and communication/electric deliverability infrastructure. The unaffected facilities have continued to operate to varying degrees throughout this event. As of today, our facilities are collectively producing approximately three-quarters of The Geysers’ normal operating capacity, sending approximately 540 megawatts of renewable geothermal energy to the grid. This is a testament to the dedication and skill of our team at The Geysers.

As to the facilities that were directly affected, a full damages assessment is still being conducted. Certain repairs are already underway, and based upon our initial review, we estimate repairs will be completed over the next 6-12 months. We believe our insurance program will cover repair and replacement costs as well as our net revenue losses, after deductibles, which we currently estimate will be approximately $30-35 million in total, split about evenly between property damage and lost net revenue. We also expect our delivery obligations under power sales agreements to be excused without further supply or cover obligations by reason of force majeure until repairs are completed.

The Valley Fire is now 97% contained according to CalFire, and we believe there is no active current threat to our facilities at The Geysers, but it is impossible to rule out changes in conditions that could lead to a further threat.

The Geysers is the largest geothermal complex in the world, comprising approximately 45 square miles along the border of Sonoma and Lake Counties. Calpine owns and operates 14 power plants at the Geysers with a net operating capacity of approximately 725 megawatts.

Ormat Begins Operations at Don A. Campbell Phase 2 Geothermal Power Plant, Nevada
Press Release — Streamlined Development Allows Revenue Stream Ahead of Schedule — RENO, Nev., Sep 24, 2015 — Ormat Technologies, Inc. ORA, -2.03% announced today that the second phase of its Don A. Campbell geothermal power plant located in Mineral County, Nevada began commercial operation on September 17, 2015. The power plant is expected to generate 19 MW (net) on a yearly average basis, above the nominal target of 16.2 MW listed in the 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA). SCPPA resells the entire output of this plant to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).

“The Don A. Campbell Phase 2 plant reached commercial operation 10 months after the project broke ground and less than two years after we commenced firm operation of the first phase in December 2013,” commented Isaac Angel, Ormat’s CEO. “This rapid execution is the result of multiple improvements we have been implementing across our entire value chain, enabling Ormat to shorten time to market and accelerate time to revenue, in this case six months ahead of our original schedule. This second phase has doubled the generating capacity of the Don. A Campbell geothermal complex, and we are delighted to be able to provide LADWP with this additional firm, reliable and affordable renewable power, supporting its efforts to transition away from coal and reach its renewable energy goals.”

As previously announced, Northleaf Capital Partners, Ormat’s new joint venture investor, will purchase 36.75% equity interest in the project which will be added to the existing ORPD joint venture according to the terms of the agreement. Ormat will continue to consolidate the joint venture and its assets, and will continue to provide day-to-day management control, operations and maintenance control over the projects.

“Reaching this milestone is a validation that this relationship will represent a long-term, mutual beneficial arrangement that enables Ormat to monetize our operational assets at an attractive valuation,” added Mr. Angel. “Bringing this asset online will strengthen our financial performance in the second half of the year, supporting our full-year guidance and positioning us for another growth year in 2016.”

U.S. Geothermal Confirms Reservoir at WPG Geysers Project
U.S. Geothermal Inc., www.usgeothermal.com — Press Release (BOISE, IDAHO) Sep 21, 2015 — U.S. Geothermal Inc. (GTH)(nyse mkt:HTM), a leading renewable energy company focused on the development, production, and sale of electricity from geothermal energy, is pleased to announce it has received the reservoir engineering report for the WGP Geysers project from third party engineering firm GeothermEx Inc.

As previously announced, the Company successfully completed a flow test program in June on the three largest production wells at the WGP Geysers project in northern California confirming that the wells were still open and ready for production. GeothermEx Inc. (a Schlumberger company) designed the isochronal (step-rate) flow test program, and monitored the testing of the wells.

GeothermEx reports that the four production wells are capable of delivering an initial capacity of 28.1 MW (gross) or 25.4 MW (net) based on current power plant steam conversion rates from a detailed design for a 28.8 MW (net) power plant. These longer term tests show the wells would initially produce a combined total of 458,000 pounds per hour of steam compared to 462,000 pounds per hour of steam from short term tests performed when the wells were first drilled, demonstrating that the capacity of the wells is virtually unchanged. Using the average steam production rate from these wells and an assumed interference factor of 30%, GeothermEx estimates that an additional 2-3 production wells would be needed to support the long term operation of a 28.8 MW (net) plant.

Two methods were used by GeothermEx to estimate the long term capacity of the WGP project, and both support a high probability that a 28.8 MW (net) plant can be operated for 25 years, given the modern plant design and the available productive area. The first is the p/z method, an established natural gas reservoir engineering calculation that is routinely used at The Geysers. Based on the plant design and the increase in available injection that would result from WGP’s planned hybrid cooling system, GeothermEx estimates that the reservoir could support the 28.8 MW (net) plant for up to 54 years. The second method, which is an empirical approach based on GeothermEx’s extensive experience at The Geysers, is used to estimate the steam production capacity per acre within the productive area of a geothermal leasehold. On this basis, GeothermEx reports that the productive acreage within the WGP leasehold has steam reserves sufficient to supply up to 44 MW (net) with a conventional injection level of 25%, and potentially more at the higher injection levels associated with the planned hybrid cooling system.

“The results of this analysis from our test program clearly shows that the WGP Geysers project has approximately 30 megawatts of steam, drilled, tested and ready for production, and that, with the higher injection rates provided by hybrid cooling, it has the reservoir to support long term generation,” said Dennis Gilles, CEO of US Geothermal. “We are pleased with last week’s passage of SB-350 in California, which now raises the Renewable Portfolio Standard for the state to 50% renewable energy by 2030, the highest in the country, and we anticipate this will increase the interest in a power purchase agreement for our WGP Geysers project. We are also pleased to announce that the recent forest fires reported in The Geysers area did not impact our geothermal wells, project equipment, or project site.”

Special Notice for the Geothermal Industry from Navy Geothermal Program
As posted on the GEA Community Notice Board — Beginning September 16, 2015 and continuing through October 1, 2015, a Synopsis posted on the FedBizOpps website features a presolicitation notice for the Geochemistry of Coso: N39430-15-R-1726.

This is not a solicitation for proposals. A solicitation for services is expected to follow, in October, and will be posted for at least 30 days on the FedBizOpps website: https://www.fbo.gov.

Because the Navy is required to post to the Navy Electronic Commerce Online (NECO) website, which allows data to then migrate to FedBizOpps, viewing a synopsis, solicitation, or related information directly on NECO is an option, with URL https://www.neco.navy.mil. However, from FedBizOpps, a user of that system can quickly click into the NECO portal as well. The look of the screen will change once access to NECO is achieved.

The Navy is providing this information to the GEA online bulletin board as a means of industry outreach. Additional use of the GEA online bulletin board may occur, as new opportunities emerge to do business with the Navy on behalf of the Navy Geothermal Program Office (GPO).

Small businesses with a product or service that is possibly relevant to the GPO in the years ahead may contact the Navy EXWC Small Business Deputy, Ray Brothers, at 805-982-1254. The GPO is in the Energy and Public Works Department of EXWC, a command that is part of NAVFAC and headquartered at Naval Base Ventura County.

NAVFAC is an abbreviation for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. On the Internet, further information about NAVFAC is available at http://www.navfac.navy.mil. To view the EXWC webpage, position the mouse on NAVFAC WORLDWIDE and a drop-down menu will appear. Below Specialty Centers, choose Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (EXWC). On the EXWC webpage, choose Products and Services, then Energy and Public Works, then select from the menu on the left side of the screen, the link to the Utilities and Energy Management webpage. On that page, scroll through the listings of program areas to find the Geothermal Program Office. While the GPO is located at China Lake, in proximity to the Coso geothermal field, the GPO is part of the EXWC Public Works Department. Hence, acquisition support for GPO is provided by the EXWC Acquisitions Department, located Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, California.

The information above was prepared by Dulce Setterfield, Contract Specialist, NAVFAC EXWC.

BLM Requests Comments on Land Use in DRECP by Oct. 30
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is continuing its efforts to inform and consult the public on the Land Use Plan Amendment (LUPA) as Phase 1 of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). A revised draft PA is available online at http://drecp.org/section106/. The BLM requests that all comments be submitted in writing at your earliest convenience, or by no later than October 30, 2015. Written comments should be submitted to Tiffany Arend at the address provided below, or via email to DRECP106@blm.gov.

CARB Seeking Comments on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
Senate Bill 605 requires the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and other state agencies to develop a strategy to reduce the state’s emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as methane, black carbon and fluorinated gases. ARB has released a draft document, The Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy which is open for public review and will be discussed at public workshops in October. The Draft Strategy can be found at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/shortlived/shortlived.htm where you will also find links for submitting comments. A Proposed Strategy will be to the Board in late 2015.

RFP for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment: Non-Energy Research
Via Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute — The State of California has generated three scientific climate change assessments since 2006. These reports have been instrumental in guiding state policy and supporting informed responses to climate change. With funding provided by the California Natural Resources Agency, the state is moving forward with the Fourth Climate Change Assessment to advance the science that supports sound policy while responding directly to state, regional, and local decision-makers who need information to guide planning. All research institutions are welcome to submit applications including entities from the private sector.

With 18 projects and a total $4.5 million in funding, the Deadline for Submittal is 3 pm PST, Friday, December 4, 2015. The Request for Proposal is contained in two files: (1) California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment: Non-Energy Request For Proposals, which includes a summary description of each project. Available at http://beci.berkeley.edu/California-Fourth-Climate-Change.pdf; and (2) California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment: Conceptual Sketches of Projects for the Non-Energy Research Portfolio, which includes a full description of each project. Available at http://beci.berkeley.edu/Conceptual_Sketches.pdf.

Sage Grouse Not An Endangered Species
The Department of the Interior announced this month the greater sage grouse does not need protection under the Endangered Species Act. The decision follows the extensive work of 11 Western states to protect the birds’ lands. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell called the success “the largest land conservation effort in U.S history” and tipped the hat to various wildlife organizations along with individuals and the government in working together to save a species.

Former GEA President Appointed to Head Nevada PUC
Gov. Brian Sandoval has appointed Paul Thomsen, current director of the Governor’s Office of Energy and previous Geothermal Energy Association President, as chairman of the Nevada Public Utilities Commission beginning Oct. 1. Thomsen will replace outgoing Commissioner Rebecca Wagner. “Paul is one of the leading experts in Nevada’s dynamic energy industry,” Sandoval told press. “Paul has a keen understanding of local, state, and federal energy issues and his experience will allow him to immediately engage on important issues that the commission is expected to confront.”

Unique Heat Pump Company Visits GEA
American Water (www.amwater.com) representatives visited the Geothermal Energy Association headquarters on September 29 to discuss their low-temperature, direct-use geothermal pilot system. The company explains, “This geothermal system differs from traditional “closed loops” systems that require drilling a series of well springs to reach water sources. Instead, water is drawn from the water main, making the geothermal installation expedient, cost efficient and less invasive.” The system is being piloted at the William L. Buck Elementary School in Valley Stream, New York.

Source: American Water
Source: American Water

“Stuff You Should Know” Calls Geothermal Energy “Earth’s Gift to Mankind”
Stuff You Should Know did an episode on geothermal energy (available here: stuffyoushouldknow.com). “Just in the first 10 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, not that deep, there’s an estimated 50,000 times more energy in the form of heat than there is in all of the oil and natural gas reserves in the world,” the hosts explain. They later note that while gas, oil, coal and nuclear are all about getting steam to turn a turbine, you have to burn something to get it, and “With geothermal energy you’re cutting out a lot of processes.”

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