The Northwest's second geothermal power plant has entered service. A Boise-based company called U.S. Geothermal built the project at Neal Hot Springs, near the small town of Vale in eastern Oregon.
The company's CEO Daniel Kunz says a good renewable energy resource and nearby transmission lines made Neal Hot Springs attractive for geothermal power generation.
"We have access to a relatively shallow reservoir. It's less than 3,000 feet deep, which in our business is pretty shallow. It's got the right temperature, so it's near 300 degrees Fahrenheit. And we have had quite a success drilling very prolific production wells."
Kunz's company also operates the region's first geothermal power plant at Raft River, in southeast Idaho. He says this new power plant at full production will generate enough electricity to light more than 20,000 average homes. Idaho Power is buying all of the output for its customers.
Other geothermal power exploration is happening right now in the North Cascades by Snohomish Public Utility District. Separately, drilling is underway in central Oregon near Newberry Volcano, led by Seattle-based AltaRock Energy.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network