domingo, febrero 24, 2008

UNITED STATES: New Geothermal Power Supply On Steam For Millions In Northwest Nevada

Vulcan Power Company has announced the G3 Power Plan, a preliminary plan for green grid transmission upgrades to deliver a "green gigawatt" (1,000 megawatts) of clean geothermal power to Los Angeles and Las Vegas from massive natural steam zones located in northwest Nevada.

Scientists at the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy at University Nevada Reno estimate that 2,500 megawatts (MW) of geothermal natural steam exists in northern Nevada, according to the recent press release of director Dr. Lisa Shevenell. This clean steam fuel could generate power for 2.5 million people, corroborating the US Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) observation that Nevada is the "Saudi Arabia of Geothermal".

There has already been about 240 MW of geothermal online in Nevada for 15 years, which is evenly split between Nevada and California utility buyers Sierra Pacific Resources and Southern California Edison Company, the nation's largest renewable power purchaser.

But new green grid upgrades are needed for Nevada steamfields to grow up to 2,500 MW, supplying a "green gigawatt" (1,000 MW) each to California and Nevada. Seven companies with advanced sites have been selected to supply progressive Nevada and California utilities with about 500 MW of geothermal, with over half utilizing these grid upgrades.

"The geothermal genie," said Vulcan board member Sandy Lonsdale, "is being held hostage by antiquated transmission lines from northern Nevada to California and southern Nevada."

Lonsdale is also the former president of the Juniper Chapter of the Sierra Club. He is Chairman of Vulcan's Native Restoration Fund (NRF) which plans to give 5% of Vulcan project income back to fund habitat restoration and tribal restoration projects. NRF was the brainchild of the Vulcan CEO and Jon Wellinghoff, a former Vulcan board member and current Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. "The green grid can be a win-win for the land and Americans both in rural areas and our cities," he added.

Vulcan's CFO, Bryan Urban, has previously managed large power and transmission projects as CFO of Panda Energy, who financed and built $5.5 billion of successful power projects. "New geothermal projects are attracting finance community support," Mr. Urban said.

He added, "Merrill Lynch Commodities invested $35 million in Vulcan. Vulcan now has a $100 million institutional private placement underway. Vulcan has a large portfolio of geothermal contracts and owns one of the largest geothermal property positions in the nation, with resources independently rated at over 700 MW."

"G3 Plan transmission economics are very compelling," said Vulcan board member Richard Rodgers, a former senior banker at Bank of America. "Geothermal is a bargain for California, particularly when compared to new gas fired power, believed to cost $0.096 per kWh. The first 1,000 MW of new geothermal could justify building about $4 billion worth of grid upgrades and doubling that output justifies $8 billion in upgrades."

Cost estimates for the G3 Plan are expected in the second quarter of 2008 while very preliminary "Green Tap" budget estimates have been received. Electranix recently estimated a 500 MW tap on the 3,100 MW Pacific DC Intertie line in Nevada will cost $125 to $180 million and a 1,000 MW tap from $170 to $250 million, depending on design, location and if it connects with Sierra Pacific to provide counterflow power to Nevada.

G3 benefits also include the economic and environmental benefits of clean power, which exceed $18 billion and nearly 2 billion gallons of groundwater savings per year.

The G3 Plan team includes former transmission planning executives Jim Kritikson of SCE and Robert Jackson of SDG and E, DC line specialist Electranix and Ed Evatz, former deputy director Nevada USBLM. Ed Evatz said, "the G3 Power Plan welcomes stakeholder comments, ideas and questions by email or shared at local small town meetings that G3 will be scheduling. The team has held meetings and is contacting other stakeholders in both states."

Source: SPX

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