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Energy site work could begin later this year
Geothermal facility on refuge consideredConstruction could begin later this year on a multi-million dollar geothermal energy facility on the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.
Ron Cole, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges manager, said the facility would provide the refuge with low-cost electricity, saving it up to $1 million annually in power costs.The facility is being developed by Entiv Organic Energy, an energy company owned by Mike Noonan. Noonan also owns Noonan Farms, which produces organic vegetables, grain, potatoes, hay and dairy products on Klamath Basin holdings.
Noonan said the geothermal facility would use innovative technology to generate 3 to 7 megawatts of electrical energy from 190- to 200-degree water in refuge wells. Tests are being done to determine water temperatures and volumes.Entiv is working in partnership with Technip, a French company that specializes in energy industry engineering and construction, and Mannvit, an Icelandic firm that specializes in geothermal well drilling. “We’re going to be directed by technology on what we do,” Noonan said.
Cole said he and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have been working on the first phase of the project with Noonan and his partners for a year.The refuge is seeking ways to reduce its energy costs to heat some of its shops and other facilities, and to help with technology that can reduce power costs of pumping on and off the refuges.
“ With escalating power costs, the refuge faces power bills up to $1 million annually,” Cole said.Depending on volumes produced by the geothermal wells, Cole said the refuge complex could meet all or part of those power needs and provide water to parched wetlands.
“That’s huge,” Cole said, noting ongoing power rate hikes and concerns about water supplies have increased in recent years. The Tule Lake and Lower Klamath refuges do not have any guaranteed allocations of water through the Klamath Reclamation Project.Cole, Noonan and Jeroen Snijder, Technip’s vice president and general manager, met with U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Department of the Interior officials in Washington, D.C., earlier this year to discuss the studies and potential for geothermal power. Cole said the group was given the go ahead to move into the next phase of studies.
Snijder said Technip has new technologies that allow lower temperature geothermal water to be converted to energy. Until recently, he said water temperatures of about 250 degrees were needed. Power plants using the technology have been developed in other countries but not in the U.S.A major concern is determining volumes of water that can be used and reinjected without excessively cooling the geothermal aquifer, Snijder said. He hopes the current studies on existing refuge wells can be completed by June.
Noonan and Cole said hot water wells were discovered during the 2001 water crisis, when water deliveries were curtailed to Klamath Basin water users. When farmers, refuge staff and other irrigators drilled wells, some wells produced water too hot for use on fields and refuges and too cold for geothermal use through the existing geothermal technology available at that time.Noonan said he and partners agreed to use Lower Klamath refuge to give the project a higher profile and to benefit the refuge. Noonan is among several Klamath Basin farmers who worked on the Walking Wetlands programs, which inserts wetlands into commercial crop rotations. Cole said the program benefits wildlife and Noonan said it has improved crop yields and soil health.
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Page Updated: Saturday April 07, 2012 12:27 AM Pacific
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