KUNM

Public Comment Open On Geothermal Exploration

Jun 10, 2015

The Santa Fe National Forest Service is asking the public what kind of environmental protections they would like to see for geothermal energy development in the Jemez Mountains. The U.S. Geological Survey identified nearly 200,000 acres in the region as having high potential for geothermal development.

Ormat Technologies Inc., an energy company from Nevada, wants to pump water through rocks heated by magma hundreds of thousands of feet beneath the Valles Caldera in order to create steam to turn turbines.

“There is still molten rock under the volcano there, so it is heating the rock above it,” explained Larry Gore, a geologist with the Santa Fe National Forest. “And instead of using a nuclear reactor or a coal-fired power plant or a gas-fired power plant to make your steam, you’re using the heat of the earth to make that steam.”

The forest service is doing an environmental impact statement and is asking the public to weigh in about what studies they’d like to see included in the report. Comments are due by June 26, 2015.

Federal law requires leasing of public lands for renewable energy projects.  

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that water is not pumped into magma.