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Salt Lake City Looks to Geothermal, Obama Stimulus to Keep “Green” Momentum Going

The Salt Lake City and Utah state governments in January announced a plan to assess the viability of tapping into local low temperature geothermal resources to generate electricity on a cost competitive basis with alternatives.

The research program is the latest in Salt Lake City’s efforts to meet the goals set forth in its comprehensive Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 3% per year for the next ten years, and 70% by 2040. Greenhouse gas emissions at its municipal operations have been cut 31% since 2001, a level that surpasses Kyoto Protocol targets by a wide margin. Mayor Ralph Becker January 15 was named one of the country’s top 20 mayors for sustainability by the Clinton Foundation’s Our Green Cities Initiative.

The city and state are looking to President Obama’s proposed “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” for assistance and support. Passed in the House last week and now under review in the Senate, the stimulus plan includes $69 billion worth of federal government investments and incentives to spur further development of renewable energy resources and create as many as 500,000 “green” sector jobs.

Focusing on evaluating the possibility of building a geothermal power plant in as little as six months, the city has enlisted the assistance of Raser Technologies, a leading, locally based geothermal power technology and project developer in carrying out its geothermal resource and feasibility study. Raser is one of the few companies that have successfully demonstrated the ability to employ new technology in constructing and commissioning geothermal power plants capable of generating electricity from low temperature geothermal resources.

Raser recently brought a 10-MW geothermal plant in Beaver County, Utah on-line in less than six months, power that is being delivered to the City of Anaheim as per the terms of a long-term power purchase agreement.

Besides producing zero greenhouse gas emissions and a having a relatively small geographical footprint, another advantage of geothermal power is that it can provide reliable, long-term sources of baseload power.

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