WH Climate Pledge; Ex-Im Reauthorization Passes House; EAGP is Hiring

In this post:

*More Companies Joining WH Climate Pledge; Geothermal Represented
*Ex-Im Reauthorization Passes House, Goes to Senate
*West Virginia Leads CPP Opposition
*Response to Sacramento Bee Details Geothermal Water Monitoring
*Sage Grouse Plan Released; Nevada Challenges Restrictions
*U.S.-East Africa Geothermal Partnership is Hiring
*Geothermal Risk Reduction a Focus in U.S.-Indo Agreement
*Geo Resources are Tremendous, Says Caribbean Roadmap Report
*Chilean Geothermal Students Study in Italy with Enel Green Power
*U.S. Geothermal Updates El Ceibillo Project

Caribbean2015

The graph above is from the Worldwatch Institute’s newly released Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS) Baseline Assessment and Report, which says geothermal energy offers tremendous opportunities for the future of energy in the Caribbean area.

Click below for this week’s leading geothermal news.

*More Companies Joining WH Climate Pledge; Geothermal Represented
*Ex-Im Reauthorization Passes House, Goes to Senate
*West Virginia Leads CPP Opposition
*Response to Sacramento Bee Details Geothermal Water Monitoring
*Sage Grouse Plan Released; Nevada Challenges Restrictions
*U.S.-East Africa Geothermal Partnership is Hiring
*Geothermal Risk Reduction a Focus in U.S.-Indo Agreement
*Geo Resources are Tremendous, Says Caribbean Roadmap Report
*Chilean Geothermal Students Study in Italy with Enel Green Power
*U.S. Geothermal Updates El Ceibillo Project

More Companies Joining WH Climate Pledge; Geothermal Represented
A national pledge by major companies who support quick action on climate change has grown to include 81 companies. Berkshire Hathaway and Calpine, both GEA members, are signatories of The American Business Act on Climate Pledge, as well as non-GEA members who have supported geothermal in the past including Apple and Google.

Berkshire Hathaway Geothermal (CalEnergy) operates 10 geothermal generating plants in Southern California’s Imperial Valley, while Calpine operates 19 geothermal power plants at The Geysers region of Northern California. Berkshire Hathaway was one of the initial 13 major corporations who joined the White House in first announcing the pledge this past July. Jonathan Weisgall, VP Legislative and Regulatory Affairs of Berkshire Hathaway Energy told GEA:

“Achieving worldwide greenhouse gas reductions starts at the local level – with individual states and individual power plants. At Berkshire Hathaway Energy, we’re proud of our roots as a 100% geothermal company and we’re going to continue to move forward to support a low-carbon, sustainable future. There’s no question of the importance of geothermal as a renewable baseload generation source as California’s investor-owned and public utilities pull out of coal generation in order to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s new 50% renewable goal,” said Weisgall, who also serves on the Geothermal Energy Association’s Board of Directors.

The pledge also voices the companies’ support for a strong climate change agreement when the UN meets in Paris this year. The pledge notes that not only is action on climate change needed fast, but that delay has major repercussions on the health of the entire globe.

Ex-Im Reauthorization Passes House, Goes to Senate
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im) authorization expired June 30, but this week the House of Representatives voted 313-118 to reauthorize. Support was led by Representative Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) who invoked the first successful discharge petition since 2002, an e-mail alert from Hogan Lovells reported. The House’s standalone reauthorization bill will head to the Senate, where it could become part of a long-term highway bill.

West Virginia Leads CPP Opposition
The Clean Power Plan or final U.S. rule to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants is now available on the Federal Register, and with it, lawsuits have begun as expected. Via EESI:

Two dozen states led by West Virginia filed suit [with] the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, kicking off a legal fight that is likely to make it to the Supreme Court. Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) are also moving to stop the Clean Power Plan by introducing two resolutions under the Congressional Review Act, a rarely used law that enables Congress to overturn an executive branch regulation within 60 legislative days of its official publication. However, the senators’ move is mainly symbolic, since they are unlikely to pass the resolutions with a veto-proof majority.

Two more EPA rules were also filed: a final rule limiting carbon emissions from new and modified power plants and a draft implementation plan for the Clean Power Plan.

Response to Sacramento Bee Details Geothermal Water Monitoring
In response to an opinion article in the Sacramento Bee earlier this month that questioned the environmental benefits of geothermal energy as California implements its goal of 50% renewables by 2030, Karl Gawell, Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association wrote the following, which was submitted to the Sacramento Bee but not published by them:

California’s geothermal market benefits public health and the environment.

For over 50 years, geothermal power plants have been providing benefits to Californians and this continues today, contrary to the false image painted by Patrick Hayes (Soapbox, October 7). During this time, geothermal projects have not impacted local ground water resources and continue to operate, with the help of state and federal agencies, to protect these valuable resources through sound planning and monitoring.

Furthermore, in contradiction to Mr. Hayes’s comment stating that “the impacts of geothermal on California’s groundwater supplies are largely unstudied and unknown”; in California, groundwater has been monitored since the very first geothermal power installation in the 1950s. The impact of geothermal development on groundwater supplies has been studied and documented for over 30 years alone in the Mammoth Lakes area. Geothermal operations have existed for decades in both populated and forested areas in California such as Mammoth Lakes, Imperial Valley, and Lake and Sonoma Counties, with no impact on groundwater resources.

Not only do companies monitor their technology and its environmental performance, the industry is also regulated to protect the environment. Geothermal projects require full compliance with environmental laws and regulations, including both NEPA and CEQA. On federal lands, the Bureau of Land Management takes the lead, and on state and private lands the State of California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources works to ensure “public safety and protect underground and surface waters” together with local land-use agencies. In the case in question, almost five years of work, the BLM, U.S. Forest Service and Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District jointly issued an 800+ page final EIS that concluded the proposed project “. . .would not have a substantial impact on hydrologic resources.”

Geothermal power provides substantial public health and environmental benefits to the residents of California, valued at nearly $100 million per year. Geothermal power plants employ more people on-site than other renewable technologies and they pay property taxes, rents and royalties. Geothermal supports local schools and communities through these allocations as well as independent programs.

Next door in Nevada, geothermal operations have been producing for the same period near Reno and Fallon with no impact on groundwater or existing vegetation. All geothermal operations provide state and local agencies with continual monitoring data and mitigation plans have been in place since these operations began. Outside the U.S., countries like New Zealand also have decades of history with geothermal without impact on groundwater resources.

Geothermal power generation has demonstrated positive performance, and as California implements S.B. 350, the state should recognize the geothermal value proposition and include more geothermal in the state power mix.

Sage Grouse Plan Released; Nevada Challenges Restrictions
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have finalized the plans that are part of the efforts toward land use mitigation rather than listing the species as endangered. The plans close, exclude or avoid most development in sage grouse habitats, including for geothermal energy. Existing projects are not affected. Via DOE:

[The finalized land use plans will] conserve key sagebrush habitat, address identified threats to the greater sage-grouse and promote sustainable economic development in the West. The plans were a critical component that helped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to conclude that the greater sage-grouse no longer warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Individual state plans contain variations where different approaches or priorities were consistent with overall conservation objectives. Existing rights, including those for oil and gas development, renewable energy, rights-of-way, locatable minerals, and other permitted projects all remain valid.

It is expected that fluid mineral leases (geothermal, oil and gas) will be subject to heavy stipulations, with the plans covering 15 sub-regions in 10 different states, and approximately 34.5 million acres of land affected in the Great Basin alone.

However, the State of Nevada has signed onto a lawsuit challenging the federal restrictions. Gov. Brian Sandoval has raised concerns in the past about differences between Nevada and federal officials’ approaches to managing sage grouse habitat, and Sen. Dean Heller has said federal restrictions in lieu of the endangered species listing are too restrictive on mining and grazing, notes the Reno-Gazette Journal.

For the two sage-grouse-related Record of Decision documents, including maps of the affected areas, as well as links to each of the 10 Final EIS’s by state and more information go to www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/sagegrouse/documents_and_resources.html. The “GRSG Proposed Plan Habitat” map for Nevada and Northeastern California, below, is from www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/prog/wildlife/greater_sage-grouse.html.

2015-sagegrouse-Habitat-map

U.S.-East Africa Geothermal Partnership is Hiring
The U.S.-East Africa Geothermal Partnership (EAGP), a sister organization of the Geothermal Energy Association through a public-private partnership, seeks to hire an additional Senior Program Coordinator with experience in the energy sector in Sub-Saharan Africa. Via EAGP:

The United States Energy Association (USEA) seeks an experienced Senior Program Coordinator with experience in Sub-Saharan Africa (preferably East Africa), knowledge of the global energy sector, and an understanding of government contracting to assist with the execution of a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project to advance geothermal energy development in East Africa and expand business opportunities for U.S. geothermal companies.

The successful applicant will be responsible for logistical activities and communications as well as recommending strategies for various meetings, seminars, conferences, and overseas and U.S. exchange visits, as assigned by the Program Director. For more information and to apply, view it on Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/jobs2/view/80879131?trk=vsrp_jobs_res_pri_act&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A141070771445953802257%2CVSRPtargetId%3A80879131%2CVSRPcmpt%3Aprimary.

Geothermal Risk Reduction a Focus in U.S.-Indo Agreement
A new Memorandum of Understanding between U.S. and Indonesia builds on recent action to cooperate on energy matters. The agreements expands the nations’ joint focus on “remote and off-grid renewable energy; assistance with the establishment of a Clean Energy Center of Excellence in Bali; strategic petroleum reserves; and collaboration on carbon capture, utilization and storage,” according to a White House fact sheet. Climate Benefits of Geothermal Energy Development are described as follows:

To increase our cooperation on climate change and bolster Indonesian energy security, the United States and Indonesia will collaborate on financing structures and adequate project risk mitigation tools to accelerate the pace of geothermal investments in Indonesia. Indonesia has approximately 29 gigawatts of geothermal resources that, if fully realized, could help to avoid yearly release of .73 gigatons of CO2e.

The Indonesia Ministry of Finance established a geothermal fund for risk sharing with more than $300 million in funding to mitigate resource risks in early stage geothermal development. In addition, the World Bank has raised $150 million for the Global Geothermal Development Plan. The Department of State has proposed a geothermal risk reduction program that seeks to utilize these idle funds to support exploration drilling and insurance instruments for geothermal production drilling risk to accelerate the financing of geothermal projects in Indonesia.

The agreement was signed by U.S. Secretary of Energy Moniz and Indonesian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Sudirman on October 23.

Geo Resources are Tremendous, Says Caribbean Roadmap Report
This week the Worldwatch Institute released the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS) Baseline Assessment and Report (PDF), the first-ever of its kind for the Caribbean, with input from the member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The report assesses the regional energy situation and makes suggestions for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate mitigation, with targets and next steps. Most CARICOM member states possess untapped geothermal resources, which could dramatically change the region by making member states renewable energy exporters, according to the report. It states:

Although geothermal energy has been slow to develop in CARICOM, it offers tremendous opportunities for those member states with high resource potentials, and even for the region as a whole if it can benefit from opportunities for interconnection and trade. Investment risks, long lead-times, and economies of scale have hampered geothermal exploration in the Caribbean in the past, but several new initiatives indicate that some CARICOM members are close to overcoming these challenges. Geothermal plants are undergoing preliminary construction in St. Kitts and Nevis and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Exploratory drilling has taken place in Dominica and Montserrat. Meanwhile, Grenada and Saint Lucia are conducting on-site resource assessments and exploring the possibility of commercial-scale extraction.

Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at Worldwatch and lead author of the report said in a statement, “A month before the milestone United Nations climate summit in Paris, and on the day of the launch of the Caribbean Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, this report leads the way for CARICOM and its Member States to become global sustainable energy leaders. We were extremely excited two years ago when CARICOM Member States reviewed an early draft of this report at a Meeting of Energy Ministers and agreed on the preliminary goal of a 48% renewable electricity share. Today’s updated and extended report adds energy efficiency and climate mitigation to the equation and is accessible to anyone in the region. It provides the analysis and tools necessary to realize the vision of an economically and environmentally sustainable Caribbean region.”

The 15 member countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. U.S. agencies this month launched the new Clean Energy Finance Facility for Central America and the Caribbean (CEFF-CCA), which was announced by President Obama earlier this year.

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Chilean Geothermal Students Study in Italy with Enel Green Power
Four engineering students from the University of Antofagasta in Chile are attending geothermal training in Italy, organized by Enel Green Power, a GEA Member company. Enel’s Web site states,

The training period in Italy began for the four students with a welcoming ceremony at Enel’s Auditorium on Viale Regina Margherita in Rome, where Enel Green Power’s greetings marked the beginning of the three-month course, which will consist in alternating classroom teaching and practical sessions in the field. Most of the course will be conducted at the geothermal hub in Larderello (Tuscany). The four students are now working in what is recognized as the world’s geothermal capital, and on October 13, they also met the secretary of the Chilean government’s National Energy Commission Andrés Romero, who visited EGP’s plants in Larderello to witness firsthand the expertise and skills that the company is transferring from Italy to Chile in order to complete the Cerro Pabellόn plant.

Enel’s Cerro Pabellόn geothermal plant in Chile started construction on July 14 and could be the first geothermal generating facility in Latin America.

U.S. Geothermal Updates El Ceibillo Project
Press Release (BOISE, Idaho)–(NYSE MKT: HTM; TSX: GTH) U.S. Geothermal Inc. (the “Company”), a leading renewable energy company focused on the development, production, and sale of electricity from geothermal energy, is pleased to announce that its whole owned subsidiary U.S Geothermal Guatemala S.A. has completed the drilling of well EC-2A and that well has successfully intersected a commercial geothermal resource at its El Ceibillo project in Guatemala.

The resource found in well EC-2A was intersected at a depth of 1,300 feet (396 meters) and had a flowing temperature of 389°F (198.5°C). This well was drilled to follow up on a 2014 temperature gradient drilling program in which two shallow wells also found high temperature fluid, but not in commercial quantities. Temperature gradient well TG-6 recorded a fluid temperature of 372°F (189°C) at 558 feet (170 meters) and well TG-7 found fluid at 381°F (194°C) at 659 feet (201 meters) deep.

Additionally, as previously announced, the Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines had approved the modified project schedule that is included in our concession agreement on July 21, 2015. The modified project schedule was updated in the concession agreement and was approved October 13, and the Minister of Energy and Mines signed the final decree approving the modified concession agreement.

“We are extremely pleased with the results of this well, discovering geothermal fluids with both high temperature and in commercial quantities” said Dennis Gilles, Chief Executive Officer. “We are additionally pleased and grateful to the Minister of Energy and Mines, for providing the final approval of our modified concession agreement. Our goal now is to continue to expand the reservoir area, and define the expected size of the project so we can move forward to secure a Power Purchase Agreement and start construction.”

Based on the discovery at EC-2A, two additional wells have been sited to further extend the resource area to the south and west of the known high temperature permeability and to test a deeper horizon in the system. Drill pads are being constructed and drilling of the next well is expected to begin within the next few weeks as weather allows. Pending results of these two wells, a decision will be made on the location for a production size well to fully test the resource to determine its size and production characteristics.

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