John Edwards at Energy Prospects is reporting that five geothermal projects totaling 489 MW projects have been selected by the Bureau of Land Management to be prioritized in the Western US this year. Among the five is the 40 MW Salt Wells project being developed by Nevada’s Ormat Technologies, the subsidiary of Ormat Industries, founded in Israel.
Renewable energy approvals on public land is a relatively new thing for the US. Until the Obama administration, BLM lands were seen as oil and gas sites. But, now, with a new administration focus on developing clean energy, that is set to double US renewables to 16 GW.
There is an overwhelming number of new applications with the incentives of the US Recovery Act. The BLM is practicing triage of sorts, in selecting those most likely to succeed and focusing on getting them implemented. To make sure that the maximum number of projects makes it through all the hoops in time, the new priority is thus being given to those that are most likely to be approved by year end.
In addition to the five geothermal projects totaling 489 MW, five wind farms totaling 1,024 MW and nine solar projects totaling 2,673 MW form a total of 19 renewable energy projects to be “prioritized” in 2011. This is an increase over the 12 approved last year (nine solar projects, two geothermal projects and one wind project) which was itself a record-breaking number of renewable projects.
To make the short list, each of these 19 projects must be ready for environmental review and public comment, be located in an area that minimizes impacts on the environment, and have the potential to be approved by the year-end deadline. The Republican Party in congress represents well organized opponents of renewables in the US, making it difficult to do long term planning. The Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service helped with project selection to help winnow out those that meet all the criteria.
“We will not be cutting corners in processing the applications for these projects, especially when it comes to environmental analysis and opportunities for public participation,” BLM Director Bob Abbey said in a statement.
All but one of the geothermal projects are in Nevada, and that one is Enel Geothermal’s proposed 37-MW Cove Fort project in Beaver County, Utah. Three of the geothermal projects are at Salt Wells where Ormat Technologies is developing 40 MW, Vulcan Power is developing 120 MW, and Sierra Pacific Power is developing 230 MW. Terra-Gen Power has received approval for a 62 MW plant at Coyote Canyon.
Chances look good for Ormat Technologies. Theirs is among the proposed Salt Wells geothermal projects that have already successfully passed the public comment period in early March.
Read more on Ormat:
Ormat Technologies Secures US Funds For Geothermal Plants
Ormat Set to Release Alaska’s Geothermal Energy Potential
Ormat Subsidiary Joins Geothermal Rush to Supply Chile’s New Renewable Energy Program