State Law Helps Spur New Geothermal Power

Ormat Technologies’ Nevada division broke ground this week on a geothermal electric power plant in Steamboat, Nevada. The power plant will be the first new US geothermal plant to be built in the last 14 years and was pushed along by a new state law in Nevada that increases renewable energy use.

Known as the Galena Geothermal Project, when completed the plant will be added to the existing Steamboat geothermal plants and bring the total output from this geothermal complex to 44 MW of electricity through a process that extracts and re-injects the hot geothermal waters from the ground. The electricity produced at the plant is already under contract to Sierra Pacific Power Company. Sierra Pacific has purchased the output from geothermal plants at Steamboat since the mid-1980s. One MW of electricity can supply energy up to approximately 1,000 typical homes in the area. Ormat owns and operates four other geothermal plants at Steamboat, the oldest of which has been in operation since 1986. A new statewide renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, played a part in advancing this project. “This is the first project to begin construction since the Nevada Legislature passed laws requiring utilities to supply a portion of their power from renewable energy resources,” said Dan Schochet, Vice President of Ormat. In 2001, the Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 372, which requires the use of a certain percentage of renewable energy resources (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass) to generate electricity for customers within the state. According to Roberto Denis, Senior Vice President of Generation and Energy Supply for Sierra Pacific, Sierra Pacific Power purchases approximately 95 megawatts of electricity from geothermal sources in northern Nevada. “Another 30 megawatts of power under contract with Ormat is due to be supplied within the next 18 months,” Denis said. “Today marks another significant step in Nevada’s goal of developing more renewable resources to help meet our state’s growing power needs.”
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