This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
Geothermal Power Plant in Northern California Gains Approval
The U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service gave their approval on November 26th for the development of a 48-megawatt geothermal power plant in Siskiyou County, California, near the state's northern border. Calpine Corporation will develop the plant, to be located at Telephone Flat, near Medicine Lake in the Modoc National Forest. To connect the plant to the power transmission system, Calpine will also build a 13-mile transmission line. The route for that line was modified to avoid an area of the Medicine Lake Highlands designated as a Traditional Cultural District and considered sacred to local Indian tribes. See the Department of Interior press release.
Proposed development of the site dates back to 1997, when CalEnergy Corporation submitted an application, which was ultimately rejected in May 2000. Calpine later acquired CalEnergy, which had filed a lawsuit to continue the project. In April 2002, Calpine and the U.S. government agreed to stay the litigation and reassess the decision, which led to final approval of the project. See the Record of Decision on the California Bureau of Land Management Web site (PDF 69 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.
Geothermal development in the Medicine Lake area continues to be controversial with local Indian tribes. In late September, the International Indian Treaty Council adopted a resolution that opposed geothermal development in the area. See the resolution.
DOE and the Interior Department are trying to increase production of renewable energy on federal lands in support of the President's National Energy Policy. Working in an interagency task force that included the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Defense Department, the two agencies produced a report in August that recommends updated geothermal resource mapping, promotion of increased geothermal energy production, and an expedited review of geothermal lease applications. DOE also committed to updating its Wind Energy Resource Atlas, and the Interior Department plans to establish a biomass production initiative. The Bush Administration is also considering an Executive Order to increase renewable energy production on federal lands. See the "White House Report in Response to the National Energy Policy Recommendations to Increase Renewable Energy Production on Federal Lands" (PDF 3.8 MB). Download Acrobat Reader.