Renewable energy | Ecotrope

Oregon geothermal project gets loan backing

Ecotrope | Feb. 24, 2011 3:39 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:40 p.m.

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The U.S. Department of Energy has offered clean energy loan guarantees to support three renewable energy projects in Oregon: Caithness Shepherd's Flat wind energy project in Arlington, SoloPower's solar panel manufacturing plant in Wilsonville, and U.S. Geothermal Inc.'s power plant in Malheur County.

The U.S. Department of Energy has offered clean energy loan guarantees to support three renewable energy projects in Oregon: Caithness Shepherd's Flat wind energy project in Arlington, SoloPower's solar panel manufacturing plant in Wilsonville, and U.S. Geothermal Inc.'s power plant in Malheur County.

As promised, the federal government today finalized a $96.8 million loan guarantee for U.S. Geothermal, Inc.’s 23 megawatt geothermal project in southeastern Oregon.

The Neal Hot Springs project, planned for a site in Malheur County, would create about a dozen permanent jobs in Oregon. Geothermal energy taps heat stored in the Earth’s crust and uses it to generate electricity with very low greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the loan backing is part of President Obama’s goal of generating 80 percent of the country’s electricity from “clean” sources by 2035. It’s Oregon’s the third federal clean energy loan guarantee – which got a big boost from stimulus funding. Other guarantees have gone to SoloPower’s flexible solar panel manufacturing plant in Wilsonville (where, exactly? Not sure yet.) and the Shepherd’s Flat wind energy project in Arlington (in line to be the world’s largest wind farm). There are other Oregon projects in line for loan guarantees, too, but the Department of Energy can’t talk about them yet.

“With the finalizing of this loan, southeastern Oregon’s economy can heat up thanks to geothermal energy technology,” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said in a news release. “This loan will create more than 150 construction jobs, more than a dozen permanent jobs and will be a real economic shot in the arm and another example that when it comes to renewable energy technology, Oregon is on the right side of history.”

U.S. Geothermal Inc., plans to use a new, efficient method of extracting energy from rock and fluids in the Earth’s crust called “supercritical binary geothermal cycle.” It can generate power from lower-temperature geothermal sources than other technologies. The company says 95 percent of the Vale power plant’s infrastructure and parts will be sourced from the U.S. The power will be sold to Idaho Power Company under a long-term purchase agreement.

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