Geothermal Power Plants Planned for Idaho, Oregon, and California

August 2, 2006

A renaissance in geothermal power production is well underway, as new geothermal power plants are proposed or under construction in both new and old locations. U.S. Geothermal Inc. broke ground on July 29th on a 13-megawatt (MW) geothermal power plant in Raft River, Idaho. The site is both a new and old geothermal location: it will be the first commercial geothermal plant in Idaho, but it's also the site of a DOE geothermal test facility that operated between 1974 and 1982. See the U.S. Geothermal press release (PDF 39 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

Nevada Geothermal Power Inc. is also planning to push into new territory with plans to build the first geothermal power plant in Oregon. A recent review of the geothermal resource at the company's Crump Geyser Geothermal Project in south-central Oregon set the minimum capacity for power production at 40 MW and found it likely that the site can produce 60 MW of power. Based on the results, the company intends to press ahead with exploratory drilling into the geothermal reservoir. Northwest Geothermal Company has also set its sights on Oregon. The company, a joint venture of Davenport Power LLC and Vulcan Power Company, aims to develop a 120-MW power plant on the western flank of Newberry Volcano, 25 miles south of Bend, Oregon. On July 28th, the company signed a contract to provide geothermal power to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). See the press releases from Nevada Geothermal Power, Davenport Power, and PG&E.

Photo of a geothermal field with steam rising from the ground.

The Geysers in northern California could again support a geothermal power plant.
Credit: PG&E

PG&E has also signed a contract for geothermal power in the more traditional stomping grounds of southern California. Iceland America Energy (IAE) plans to build a 50-MW plant near the Salton Sea in California's Imperial Valley. Meanwhile, a Canadian company plans to bring geothermal development back to California's oldest geothermal site, The Geysers in northern California. Western GeoPower Corp. has acquired a lease for a section of the geothermal area where PG&E formerly operated a 62-MW plant. Steam pressure declined at the plant in the 1980s, and the plant was shut down in 1989 and eventually dismantled. But thanks to a project to inject water into the steam field, Western GeoPower believes the site could now support a new 30-MW power plant. See the IAE Web site and the Western GeoPower press release.