July 21, 2009

Montana’s geothermal potential not so hot

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The prospect of using underground heat to generate electricity in Montana isn’t sending anyone running for federal leases – at least yet. It turns out Montana’s geothermal energy potential isn’t as hot as prospectors hoped, according to a story by Rob Chaney in the Billings Gazette. Potential geothermal sites could generate enough energy to warm swimming pools and greenhouses, but not for heavy-duty energy production. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have been braced for leasing requests, but so far no one has asked. The one hot spot that could generate such power is near Yellowstone National Park, where geothermal energy production is forbidden.

In contrast, there is considerable geothermal exploration going on in Nevada and California. A plant at Geyserville in northern California already produces about 6 percent the state’s energy.

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