Truckee utility seeking more geothermal power |

Truckee utility seeking more geothermal power

In an effort to add renewable energy to Truckee’s power portfolio, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District will seek a 20-year contract with a geothermal power plant.

District staff planned to ask the board this week to approve an agreement with the Northern California Power Agency to purchase approximately .38 megawatts from the Geysers geothermal field in Sonoma and Lake counties.

The district provides between 20 and 25 megawatts of power monthly to approximately 12,100 customers.

“The energy would be part of our power resource mix,” said Steve Hollabaugh, the district’s assistant general manager. “It would add to our renewable portfolio standards we’re trying to meet.”

Western GeoPower Incorporated plans to develop the new geothermal power plant by 2010, with an expected capacity of 25 to 35 megawatts. The district’s proposed percentage share would be 1.5 percent, Hollabaugh said.

Geothermal power is energy generated from heat stored beneath the Earth’s surface. The Geysers geothermal field, located in the Mayacamas mountains of Sonoma and Lake counties, generates more electricity than any other geothermal field in the world.

Because the district is not directly connected to the geothermal plant by transmission lines, the district is unsure how the geothermal power will be transferred back to Truckee, Hollabaugh said.

“When we get to 2010, we will evaluate how to get the power back,” Hollabaugh said. “There are ways.”

One option the district may consider is to build transmission lines within the next few years. Or the district could swap the power for another green resource more easily accessible, Hollabaugh said.

The cost to the district would be a fixed cost of $98 per megawatt-hour, or 9.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, Hollabaugh said.

“We have to buy power to sell to our customers,” Hollabaugh said. “It makes sense to add this (geothermal power) to our renewable energy portfolio to meet our customers’ needs.”

Last June, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District Board agreed to a 10-year energy deal, which includes importing about 4 megawatts of geothermal power from a plant in Northern Nevada called Rye Patch.

The district could import the energy using Sierra Pacific Power Company’s transmission lines, and the alternative energy source would supplement the district’s goal of using 20 percent renewable energy by 2010.

“We’re hoping around July to get that online,” Hollabaugh said.

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