$125M Geothermal Plant Planned In Elko County

Plans are under way to build a $125 million geothermal plant in Elko County north of Tuscarora, officials for an Alabama-based power developer said Friday.

The Hot Sulpher Springs Geothermal Power Plant, which would be the first such plant in the county, would produce an estimated 32 to 48 megawatts of electricity - enough to serve as many as 30,000 homes, the developer said.

It marks the second announcement this month of the intention to build an alternative energy power plant in northeast Nevada after Sierra Pacific Resources and Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc.
confirmed in mid-November it is working on an agreement to jointly
develop and operate a large wind-energy project in Elko County and
southern Idaho.

The final developer for the geothermal project, TG Power LLC of Trussville, Ala., has a contract to provide much of the electricity to Nevada Power, who will resell it to Sierra Pacific, the Elko Daily Free Press reported on its Web site Friday.

The project is located on 15,000 acres, largely on land leased from Ellison Ranching Co.'s Spanish Ranch, but will utilize only about 3,000 acres of that to start, said TG Power owner Martin Buckley.

He said the project holds promise of expanding to produce as much as 150 or 200 megawatts in the future.

Power for the geothermal project will be generated from the heat contained in the steam and hot water 300 to 500 feet underground.

Geothermal fluids are pumped and circulated in an underground closed loop system that extracts heat, coupled with a steam turbine that powers a generator to produce electricity.

Buckley said there is no discharge of emissions to the atmosphere and the project is "environmentally benign."

Hot water is returned to the ground at a similar depth, he said.

In addition to bringing additional tax revenue to the county, the project will employ 15 full-time employees when it is finished and many more while it is constructed, Buckley said. Roads, drilling of the first four production wells and other site work and improvements have been in progress for almost a year, he said.

The total cost for the project will be at least $125 million and may be as much as $180 million if it is expanded to a 48-megawatt facility.

Buckley hopes to start site work this spring and finish by the fall of 2009.


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