ocean energy

Enbridge take a stake in US geothermal

Enbridge Inc. has entered into an agreement with U.S. Geothermal Inc. of Boise, Idaho to partner in the 35-megawatt (MW) Neal Hot Springs geothermal project. Enbridge will invest up to US$23.8 million for a 20% stake in the plant. U.S. Geothermal will own the remaining 80%.

"Enbridge is already heavily involved in renewable and alternative energy projects through our interests in 810 megawatts of wind, solar, waste heat recovery and fuel cell projects," said Patrick D. Daniel, Enbridge President and CEO. "This investment will be our initial entry into geothermal energy, which we think has an important role to play in North America's shift toward a greener energy production mix."

The Neal Hot Springs geothermal project, developed by U.S. Geothermal Inc., is located in Malheur County, Oregon. U.S. Geothermal is constructing and will operate the facility. Construction of the project is underway and it is expected to enter service during the second quarter of 2012.

"Our strategic partnership with Enbridge assures full financing for the successful construction and operation of the Neal Hot Springs geothermal project," said Daniel Kunz, President and CEO of U.S. Geothermal Inc. "We look forward to a long and successful partnership with Enbridge on this and potentially other geothermal projects in our portfolio. Upon achieving commercial operation, Neal Hot Springs will be our third operating geothermal asset and will build upon our track record of successfully developing our existing pipeline of quality resources."

The Neal Hot Springs geothermal project will recover renewable energy from the heat of the earth's interior through a binary process that involves pumping hot water from a reservoir in the earth up through production wells. From the production wells, the water will go through closed circuit heat exchangers where it will boil a refrigerant liquid that will be sent through turbines to generate electricity. The hot water will then be injected back into the underground reservoir.

The plant is expected to produce an annual yield of approximately 191,400 MWh, corresponding to the annual consumption of around 17,500 households. Its developers calaculate that about 375,000 tonnes of carbond dioxide will be saved per year when compared to the emissions generated by a similar-sized coal-fired generation facility, and about 163,000 tonnes per year when compared to a similar-sized natural gas-fired generation facility.

The project will deliver electricity to the Idaho Power grid under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

"Green energy is a key component in our plan to achieve a neutral environmental footprint as we grow our operations," said Mr. Daniel. "In 2009 we committed to generating a kilowatt of renewable energy for every kilowatt of energy that our operations consume, and we are making good progress on that objective. We look forward to our relationship with U.S Geothermal and the potential that we may find further opportunities to partner together."

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