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Power plant closer to reality

$35 million geothermal project planned

By TY BEAVER, Herald and News 3/27/08

   A Utah-based energy company is closer to building one of Oregon’s largest geothermal electrical plants in southern Klamath County.
   Raser Technologies plans to build a $ 35-million, 10 -megawatt plant on farmland along Lower Klamath Lake Road.
   The Klamath County Planning Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved the company’s request to add a geothermal resource overlay to the farmland owned by Liskey Farms. The commission also approved a conditional-use permit to build power plant.
   The power plant would be the latest development of ge ot her ma l energy at Liskey Farms. T he L ower K la math Lake farm has utilized the hot water beneath it to heat greenhouses and provide energy for a biofuels facility.
   Land required
   J e r e my M a g r a t h , associate general counsel with Raser Technologies, said six acres of land would be needed for the plant with another 300 acres for the wells to feed hot water into the plant and then reinject it back into the ground to preserve the energy source.
   T h e p l a n t w o u l d have a life expectancy of about 30 years and use newer technology to generate energy from the hot water. Construction would take 12 to 18 months. Two on-site managers would maintain the facility.
   Magrath said it is unclear when construction will begin as the company is still obtaining necessary permits before it can design the plant.
   Incentives offered
   The company is pushi ng a head pa r t ia l ly because of the market and government incentives for developing emissions-free power. Those incentives expire at the end of 2008, putting the company in a timeline crunch, Magrath said.
   Planning commission member Judy Armstrong was concerned about noise from the facility. Magrath said the noise would be equivalent to 85 decibels, or the noise one hears standing next to an air conditioner. Mag rath said ber ms would be built to deflect the sound.
Future productivity
   Commission member Bob Moore questioned the future productivity of the plant as some older plants are seeing less energy coming out of the ground after 10 to 15 years of operation.
   Mag rath said that those plants did not reinject water initially, leading to less heated water being available for power generation.
   Commission member Charles Bland questioned the plant’s possible impact on agricultural use of groundwater.
   M a g r a t h s a i d t h e ancient underground lakes and melted glaciers the plant would use are further down — more than 2,000 feet — than the surface-fed groundwater supplies utilized by agriculture.
   “The water we’re tapping into has been there for millions of years,” he said.
   Additionally, geothermally heated water supplies have a high content of dissolved salt and minerals, making it unsuitable for agriculture.
   Agriculture limited
   Tracey Liskey of Liskey Farms said the land for the plant and well field has never been utilized for full agricultural production because it is difficult to irrigate.
   Dan Golden, assistant director of the county’s juvenile department and an adjacent landowner, said he was glad to see the project coming in.
   “I think this is exactly the kind of project we need,” he said.


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