Report shows Utah in pursuit of geothermal power

Published: Wednesday, March 30 2011 11:10 a.m. MDT

WASHINGTON  — Utah is among nine states in the country already producing geothermal electric power and has 12 other projects in development and eight others identified as viable prospects.

In a report released Wednesday by the Geothermal Energy Association, the nation's pursuit of geothermal power was detailed with an assessment of what projects already exist to make the United States the No. 1 country in geothermal energy production.

The annual report shows that in 2011, the geothermal industry is producing power in nine states at an installed capacity of 3,102 megawatts, or enough to power more than 2 million homes. That equates to the residential populations of San Francisco, Portland and Seattle combined.

Additionally, the industry is developing 146 projects across 15 states, with many projects in advanced stages of development in Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada and California.

"The geothermal industry has an exciting year ahead, as there are numerous projects switching from the development phases to full-fledged geothermal power plants," said Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association.

Developments in the industry over the last year were detailed in a Wednesday teleconference hosted by the association in advance of an international forum scheduled next month in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Utah's installed capacity of geothermal power is 42 megawatts, with 90 to 160 megawatts in development.  A number of geothermal plants operate in Utah, with the state being one of only three in the country in 2005 with geothermal power production.

Unit 1 of the Blundell power plant near Milford has an installed capacity of 23 megawatts and Unit 2 has a capacity of 9 megawatts. Two years ago, the 10-megawatt Hatch Geothermal Power Plant, also in Beaver County, began delivering power to Anaheim, Calif., according to the report.

Geothermal projects in development include the Navy Geothermal Program at Hill Air Force Base and a development called Drum Mountain.

Of the nearly $361 million provided to the geothermal industry through federal stimulus money, $3.8 was allocated to five research, development or demonstration projects in Utah.

U.S. Department of Energy-funded projects in Utah include those under the purview of the University of Utah and CSI Technologies.

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com

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