U.S.: County of Flathead in Montana eying geothermal power exploration
The Electric Cooperative of Flathead, a county in the state of Montana is looking to utilize a local hot spring area for geothermal power development.
Reported locally, The Electric Cooperative of Flathead, a county in the state of Montana is looking to utilize a local hot spring area for geothermal power development.
The drive towards developing geothermal comes from both the need for renewable energy development and the lack of wind resources, but also the announcement of a supplier´s amount of energy provided to Flathead.
According to the local article, this brought the Cooperative to geothermal energy. Already announced in July, the cooperative has secured US$491,000 to pursue geothermal exploration.
The cooperatives manager Ken Sugden has been in discussions with officials from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Mission Valley Power, the energy provider for the Flathead Indian Reservation. Hot Springs is located on the reservation, but the land that FEC is looking at for geothermal exploration is private, surrounded by tribal territory.
In the early 1980s, Jackola Engineering Company of Kalispell initiated a study – at the same site FEC is considering – to develop an agricultural byproducts plant. The company hoped to use geothermal energy at the plant and drilled as deep as 235 feet, finding 135-degree water.
Though the plant was never built, Sugden said the exploration proved that the deeper one drills, the hotter the water gets. Sugden said 165 degrees would be optimal, but advancements in technology allow for geothermal electrical generation to occur at lower temperatures.
Drilling would take place on private land, though if it was deemed necessary to spread efforts onto reservation land, tribal chairman James Steele Jr. said he would be open to negotiations. Steele said the tribe has discussed geothermal energy for years, but has never reached the advanced planning steps that FEC has.
“We all know we need other means for electrical generation,” Steele said.
Steele said if geothermal becomes a reality, he could envision partnerships down the road between Mission Valley Power, the tribe and FEC. He said “there’s a number of spots on tribal land that we’re looking at.”
Source: Flathead Beacon