$350M Ormat DOE Loan Guarantee Finalized

A geothermal project that will boost Nevada’s geothermal power production by 25 percent got good news from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which finalized the project’s conditionally approved partial loan guarantee of up to $350 million.

The project by Ormat Technologies is expected to pump out more than 1 million megawatt-hours of power annually from three plants – Jersey Valley in Pershing County, McGinness Hills in Lander County and Tuscarora in Elko County. The electricity produced, said to be enough to power 88,000 homes, is going to Nevada Power Company under a long-term power purchase agreement.

image via Ormat Technologies

The Nevada geothermal financing joins a host of loan guarantees closing before the DOE’s Section 1705 program for renewable energy development wraps up at the end of the month. The program has been under fire of late due to the Solyndra bankruptcy, but the Obama administration says it’s been helping advance clean energy while also stoking job growth. The DOE said the Nevada project will result in 332 jobs during construction and 64 during operations.

As for geothermal power, it is seen by many as a promising energy source because, unlike solar and wind power,  it can provide electricity 24 hours a day without the need for advanced storage technology. But projects have been slow to get moving due to a lack of funding, according to a report from the Geothermal Energy Association. Earlier this year, the DOE put $70 million behind a three-year program of geothermal R&D projects.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.