New site planned for geothermal plant in Boulder City, Nevada,

Alexander Richter 15 May 2009

Boulder City in Nevada is looking into the possibility for a new site for a geothermal power plant that would be farther away from a residential area.

Reported locally, Boulder City in Nevada is looking into the possibility for a new site for a geothermal power plant that would be farther away from a residential area.

Boulder City is in short proximity to the Hoover Hydro Power dam and a large number of solar power installations.

The city currently “negotiate(s) with the plant owners, who want to lease a 25-acre parcel of city property near the Western Area Power Administration substation.

The City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution adding the site to the Land Management Plan — a step in the long process required for leasing city land — with the caveat that City Manager Vicki Mayes should work with the company to see if another site farther from homes would work as well.

Geothermic Solutions Inc. has proposed building a 250-megawatt power plant. It would drill 8-inch pipes deep into the earth to harvest natural heat, Executive Vice President Kirk Harrison said.

The site, 2/3 of a mile from the nearest homes at Georgia Avenue and Buchanan Boulevard, is ideal, Harrison said, because of its proximity to the WAPA substation. That makes it easy to transport the power into the electrical grid and would make it possible for Boulder City to use the power generated at the plant, he said.

Council members questioned Harrison and Piotr D. Moncarz, his partner and a consulting professor at Stanford University, about the safety of the system, which Moncarz described as revolutionary.

Moncarz said the technology is proven and safely in use, but Geothermic Solutions has come up with a way of using it that he called “the solution we have been waiting for.”

The plant works on low pressure and uses a liquid that is recirculated through the underground pipes to capture the earth’s natural heat. There is no waste, and the annual water usage is about the same as a regular light industrial operation, Moncarz said.

“We are aware of this water issue in areas like Nevada, where you have this beautiful opportunity and no water,” he said. Residents also asked about noise during construction phase.

Moncarz said drilling technology has improved greatly in recent decades, and modern drills would not make enough noise to disturb neighbors on Georgia Avenue. But, he said, the company would measure noise levels and take steps to reduce the noise if it is excessive.

The council voted 4-0 to include the geothermic plant site in the Land Management Plan. Councilwoman Linda Strickland abstained after her husband, Tracy Strickland, spoke forcefully against the site, noting theirs is the closest home. “It is the duty of the council to balance the needs of people living in that area and the needs of the project,” Tracy Strickland said.

The council also voted 4-1 to direct Mayes to begin negotiating a joint development agreement with Geothermic Solutions for the site while the city searches for an alternative site. Strickland voted no, saying she preferred the city put out a request for proposals to see if other companies may also be interested.

Councilwoman Andrea Anderson, however, noted that a request for proposals might make it difficult for the city to change sites if a new one is found, and Mayor Roger Tobler and Councilman Mike Pacini argued that a joint development agreement would better allow the city to strike a deal with Geothermic Solutions to buy power for residents at a reduced price.

“We have an opportunity to do a joint development agreement and secure our power into the future,” Pacini said.”

Source: Las Vegas Sun