A project in Malheur County to develop, produce and sell electricity from geothermal energy is moving ahead now after a conditional use permit from the Malheur County Planning Commission for the construction was issued.
The permits will clear the way for U.S. Geothermal’s proposed 22 net-megawatt power plant at Neal Hot Springs, west of Bully Creek Reservoir.
According to information provided by the company on its Web site, construction of the plant is currently scheduled to begin next year and is slated to be online by late 2011. Estimated cost of construction is $106 million.
U.S. Geothermal is in the running for a U.S. Department of Energy Loan, which, if obtained, would cover 80 percent of the construction cost. The due diligence review on the loan is now in progress.
The company received permits for four exploration wells from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries based on early test results.
Negotiations are underway for a long-term power agreement for the sale of the power.
U.S. Geothermal, a renewable energy development company, already operates geothermal plants at Raft River, Idaho and San Emidio Nev., and recently completed development of a second full-scale production well at Neal Hot Springs, a major step toward the development of its third operating geothermal power plant, the company said. The company plans to pump water out of the ground at a temperature of about 300 degrees, remove what heat is needed for power generation and inject the water back into the ground. The company reported that its first production well had flowing production temperatures of 286.5 degrees F. Depths of the wells will range from 2,800 feet to 3,800 feet.
“Approval of the conditional use permit is a key project milestone,” Daniel Kunz, U.S. Geothermal president and CEO, said in a statement.
“We appreciated the continue support from Malheur County and the state of Oregon as we advance toward construction of the Neal Hot Springs geothermal plant,” Kunz said.