Geothermal energy may be the wave of the future, and Provo City is riding the crest.

Tuesday the Bud L. Bonnet Geothermal Power Plant owned by Provo was dedicated. The plant, 140 miles south of Provo near the intersection of I-15 and I-70, is already producing power."This is a touching and exciting day for us," said Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins. "We've taken a lot of risk and now it pays off."

Provo bonded for $22 million to build the facility, which harnesses the energy of hot, underground water to generate electricity.

The Ben Holt Co. of Pasadena, Calif., designed and supervised the construction of the power plant expected to generate 8,500 kilowatts of electricity. The company specializes in geothermal power plants.

"The geothermal industry has come of age," said Ben Holt, comparing the advantages of geothermal energy generation to other methods. There are no nuclear wastes, no pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels and no consumptive use of the resource. Holt also said there is a small visual impact compared with wind and solar energy production.

The completion of the plant was described by Richard Judd, the general manager of the Utah Municipal Power Agency, as the culmination of dreams and hard work. Provo and five other Utah cities comprise the UMPA.

"These people and many others in the past and present have had a vision, a dream, a dream that turned into a plan, and the implementation of that plan lies here before you," said Judd. "A special thanks needs to go to Provo for their insight in 1983."

Geothermal energy is a renewable, pollution-free resource. Every kilowatt produced by geothermal energy is a reduction in pollution caused by burning fuels, Judd said.

Jenkins said, "Up in our valley, we're concerned about air pollution." He praised geothermal energy for not adding to a pollution problem.

The newly dedicated facility consists of a geothermal power plant and a sulfur abatement plant.

Steam flows through a turbine/generator module after a separator removes extraneous material from the steam.

The sulfur abatement facility is designed to produce 1.5 tons a day of sulfur from gasses in the steam. The facility prevents sulfur from escaping into the atmosphere.