Enel opens 2 geothermal power plants in Nevada

Alexander Richter 20 Apr 2009

Enel Green Power, the renewable energy firm of Italian power house Enel, just opened its two new geothermal power plants in Nevada.

Reported in local news, Enel Green Power, the renewable energy firm of Italian power house Enel, just opened its two new geothermal power plants in Nevada.

Dignitaries and representative from Enel Green Power officially dedicated (last week) two new Churchill County geothermal plants which are the largest in the world. “I think renewable energy is the future, and Enel is here to harness the future,” said Toni Volpe, head of Enel North America.

The Stillwater and Salt Wells plants are currently the largest geothermal plants in the world and will generate 65 megawatts a year, which is enough to power 40,000 homes said Francesco Starace, president of Enel Green Power.

“What is special is the dimensions of the plant,” Starace said. “It’s a large plant. It’s the largest plant in the world at this moment — this and the Salt Wells.”

The facilities will produce renewable energy while benefiting the state and local area both economically and environmentally. Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons said “this is an investment because historically the state has overcome economic hardship by tapping into energy resources, and we will export our energy and import dollars. That’s what’s going to turn us around.”

The plants also bring Nevada closer to producing 20 percent of energy from renewable resources by 2015, said Tom Fair, vice president of NV Energy, which will purchase the facilities’ electricity.

“It’s a bright green day in renewable energy,” said Comptroller Alan Kalt. “Churchill County is excited about the partnership with Enel and the benefits the world class company brings to our community, and to the development of renewable energy in Northern Nevada and North American operations.”

Brad Platt, director of power plant development for ENA, said the plants are expected to create 20 full-time skilled positions with high-end salaries. Local businesses and rental companies will be used for supplies. The county will also receive property and other taxes.

The Salt Wells plant is also on Bureau of Land Management land. Therefore, Platt said, rents and royalties go to the federal and state government. Churchill County Commissioner Normal Frey explained 25 percent comes back to the county. “I think it will be a couple million dollars a year,” Frey said. “It’s substantial money.”

In addition to being green, Platt said Enel has committed to respect community resources and will recycle water using binary technology. “We are indeed quite an international company, but we try to be local wherever we go,” Starace said. “We try to stick with the way they think, the way they behave and the way they like things done.”

Officials were excited about the future of geothermal energy in Churchill County. “In this area we have future plans, yes,” Starace said. “There is a lot of potential. We might consider future enlargements here [in Stillwater] and in Salt Wells.” BLM State Director Ron Wenker said other companies are also interested.

“We’ve got probably six proposed power plants that have a real potential of coming online,” Wenker said. “The future looks good.” Frey said there is much interest in Churchill County because of an abundance of geothermal hot spots. “Most people don’t realize that we have enough geothermal capacity right now to power geothermal energy for half a million people,” Frey said.

Official Company statement of Enel North-America

Source: Lahontan Valley News