U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Geothermal Technologies Office

Geothermal Lease Sale in Nevada Yields Record Bids

August 13, 2008

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has received a record $28.2 million in bids for geothermal energy development on federal public lands in Nevada. The DOI's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a competitive auction of lease parcels on August 5 in Reno, Nevada, offering 35 parcels encompassing a total of 105,211 acres. The lease sale was the first to offer parcels that were formally nominated by the public, and that process seems to have worked, as all 35 parcels were sold. Geothermal energy developers bid the most for parcels in Churchill County, an area east of Reno where a number of geothermal power plants are already operating. Under the competitive leasing provision of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, 245,695 acres in California, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah have been leased for a total of $57 million. See the DOI press release.

A survey released on August 7 by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) shows continued growth in the number of new geothermal power projects under development in the United States. The report identified 103 projects underway in 13 states, including Alaska, Hawaii, all the Western states except for Montana, and Florida. If developed, the projects could add 4,000 megawatts of new capacity, more than doubling the nation's geothermal power capacity. But progress remains slow, as the United States currently has 2,957 MW of geothermal power capacity, an increase of only 106.1 MW from the capacity reported by the GEA in May 2007. See the press release (MS Word 35 KB) and the current (PDF 468 KB) and previous report (PDF 124 KB) on the GEA Web site. Download Adobe Reader.

Recent efforts include a plan for a 30-megawatt plant in Nevada, which the Nevada Power Company (a subsidiary of Sierra Pacific Resources) is pursuing with Ormat after earning approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada in late July. The facility will be built near Fallon, Nevada, which is located in Churchill County, about 60 miles east of Reno. Meanwhile, the Division of Oil and Gas at the Alaska Department of Natural Resources is preparing to offer competitive leases on land along the southern flanks of Mount Spurr, an active volcano located about 75 miles west of Anchorage. While the Mount Spurr summit has not had a significant eruption in recent history, a vent of the volcano at nearby Crater Peak erupted in 1953 and 1992. The lease sale will take place in Anchorage on September 10. See the Sierra Pacific Resources press release, the Mount Spurr geothermal lease sale on the Division of Oil and Gas Web site, and the description of Mount Spurr from the Alaska Volcano Observatory.