Federal Leases Boost Geothermal Projects

Utah’s potential for using geothermal resources on public lands to generate power was increased last month through a geothermal lease sale conducted by the Bureau of Land Management. The public land agency announced it had leased nearly 6,600 acres of land primarily in Beaver County for geothermal energy development using natural steam and heat from within the earth.

Salt Lake City, Utah – February 4, 2004 [] “This is another step forward to increasing Utah’s use of renewable energy sources,” said Utah BLM Deputy State Director of Lands and Minerals Kent Hoffman. “More and more areas with geothermal potential throughout the West are being discovered, and the President’s National Energy Policy is making it a priority to help the development energy sources that have minimal impacts on the environment.” Although less than three percent of Utah’s energy comes from renewable sources, interest in renewable resources like geothermal has risen do to increased market demand. Two geothermal plants in Beaver have already proven successful. Together they produce more than 24 MW per year, providing enough energy for more than 23,000 homes. One plant is currently undergoing expansion and improvements. During the sale BLM offered 18 parcels totaling more than 33,800 acres in Beaver, Millard and Juab Counties. Parcels that received bids were located in the Cove Fort-Sulphurdale and Roosevelt Hot Spring where two existing geothermal plants are located. The high bid of $9,407 ($10.10 per acre) was received by Recurrent Resources for a Sulphurdale parcel near a geothermal plant they are currently expanding. Lessees are required to pay rental fees and royalties on any energy produced. Half of all royalties go to the State of Utah. The leases will be issued for a primary term of 10 years and will continue for as long as geothermal resources are produced in commercial quantities for up to forty years. The last geothermal lease sale in Utah was in 1988. The Bureau of Land Management administers 29 geothermal power plants, using federal resources in California, Nevada and Utah. The power plants have a total capacity of 1250 MW and supply the needs of 1.2 million homes. Geothermal energy accounts for 17 percent of renewable electricity generation, and 0.3 percent of total U.S. electricity supply. Almost 50% of the nation’s production of geothermal energy is on federal land.