Oregon to streamline permitting for geothermal drilling

Drilling rig at Newberry project site, Oregon (source: KOHD)
Alexander Richter 15 Dec 2010

Oregon is working on streamlining permitting processes for geothermal drilling to address concerns by energy companies looking at developing geothermal power projects in the state.

A recent article from Oregon talks about that, the increased interest in geothermal development in the state driven by stimulus money in hand, has created an interest by energy companies to tap vast geothermal resources in Southeastern Oregon.

It then talks about that, “like its geysers and subterranean hotspots, Oregon’s regulations for developing utility-scale geothermal projects haven’t been touched in decades.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality has worked with geothermal power developers to streamline its permitting process for drilling geothermal wells. Companies use wells to find out how much power can be generated from steam and hot water.

When Nevada Geothermal Power began the permitting process for wells at a site near Adel, in Lake County, it found the state didn’t offer permits for the activities it needed to perform there, according to Kim Niggemann, vice president of Nevada Geothermal. When the DEQ doesn’t offer a permit for a specific activity, it issues a specialized permit, but because of extra work, it costs more.

“When you drill your geothermal well, you typically inject fluid in to find out how much fluid the reservoirs there can take,” Niggemann said. “When we started permitting in Oregon, there’s no permit for that. We were facing a $10,000 special permit fee per well injection for a project where you can have over half a dozen wells.”

Geothermal resources could soon become more attractive in Oregon, so the DEQ is proposing a 10-year general permit that would allow geothermal companies to inject water for geothermal tests as well as dispose of that water, according to Bill Mason, groundwater hydrologist with Oregon DEQ’s Eugene office. Comments are being received on the proposed permit, which could be approved early next year.

Rather than obtain multiple special permits, companies would need to obtain only the general permit, making the process quicker and more affordable. The application fee would be $481 and the cost per injection well would be around $1,300 under the new permit.”

For the full article see link below.

Source: Statesman Journal