U.S. Geothermal lands $100M federal loan for Oregon project
By Christina Williams, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
U.S. Geothermal's Neal Hot Springs operation
U.S. Geothermal Inc. said Thursday it has received a $102.2 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy for a 22-megawatt power plant at Neal Hot Springs in eastern Oregon.
The loan is the 10th offered by the federal government under the loan program created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It's the first geothermal project to receive a loan.
Geothermal energy is produced when extreme underground temperatures heat water to produce steam, much like a conventional boiler. It becomes renewable when production facilities, which run the steam through a turbine, reinject the water back into the ground so it can reheat.
At Neal Hot Springs, U.S. Geothermal will use an improved technology, called "supercritical binary geothermal cycle" to extract energy from rock and fluids in the earth's crust more efficiently. The process aims to be more efficient because it allows lower-temperature geothermal resources to be used for power generation.
The announcement is good news for eastern Oregon. Earth2Tech reports that Boise-based U.S. Geothermal expects the project to create 150 construction jobs. The company will work with Houston, Texas-based TAS Energy during the 20-month plant construction process, and will hire 10 skilled full-time workers when it comes online in 2012.
“There is tremendous potential for renewable geothermal energy and the jobs for Oregon that come with it,” said Senator Ron Wyden in a news release. “The announcement today helps make commercial development of geothermal energy at the Neal Hot Springs a reality. This is good news for Oregon and the environment.”
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