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World's First Solar/Geothermal Plant Generates Power In Northern Nevada
Posting Date: 01/04/2013

By John Taylor

Twelve miles from the small town of Fallon, Nevada, population 8,500, a unique solar plant is providing enough electricity to power all of the homes in Mesquite. The world's first and only solar geothermal hybrid power plant is designed to produce 26 megawatts of energy or enough to power 16,000 homes.

The Stillwater plant integrates two alternative energy sources that are abundant in Nevada, sun and geothermal, combining the strengths and weaknesses of both. Although combining an intermittent power source for the “base load” isn't a new idea, the Stillwater plant is the first to use two renewable energy sources for all of its power. Currently, utilities will use clean energy sources during hours of peak consumer demand then combine it with a “base load” source such as natural gas to ensure a steady supply of power.

The plant combines 26 megawatts of photovoltaic solar generating capacity with 33 megawatts of geothermal base load power. The original plant began as a geothermal energy source and completed the solar expansion in 2012.

At the inauguration of the plant, Interior Secretary Steven Chu said, “as the first of its kind in the world, this plant shows how we can tap renewable energy resources and deploy every available source of American energy to stay competitive in the global race for clean energy.”

This project was a top priority for Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval who made a major effort to encourage pursuing Nevada's “green economy” after the financial crisis caused devastation among Nevada's four major industries; gambling, tourism, housing

and construction. “This facility was permitted and brought into production in just six months,” said Sandoval. “When people throughout the globe see what we have accomplished here, they will see that our state is setting a good example.”

During the construction phase, 375 workers were employed and about 100 came from Fallon. Republican State Assemblyman Tom Grady of Yerington said the project is helping the overall economy and added that the goal of the 2011 legislature was to promote more alternative energy programs throughout the state. Grady said the economy of Northern Nevada will benefit from this type of project and in the next couple of years the area will do well.

“If this project works out, we will become the green energy capital of the U.S.,” said Norm Frey, Chairman of the Churchill County Commission. He said the plant marked the beginning of a long relationship with the solar industry for Churchill County and what solar energy can do for the community.

Churchill County Stillwater plant and its sister plant, Salt Wells Geothermal, are the only two plants in the world to use large scale electrical submersible pumps for the extraction of geothermal fluids. This environmentally friendly process has no losses or consumption of water as well as no air emissions during normal operations.

Nevada's renewable energy target of 25 percent by 2025 has gone a long way to promote renewable energy projects. Northern Nevada already gets about 24 percent of its energy from renewable resources, mostly from geothermal. The power generated by the Stillwater and Salt Wells plants was purchased by NV Energy to serve its customers.

 

Commentary
  • Posted Date: 01/04/2013
    This is what we need in mesquite. Just Do not opd get involved-by the time the Lds boys get there skim and jack there pay package up,there will be nothing cheap or green about it. The only green will be the skim tidings going into the lds pockets.
    By: Joey
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  • Posted Date: 01/04/2013
    Amazing what a small town can do when it really thinks outside the box. Pahrump, Fallon, Tonopah, what is missing? Mesquite! What ever became of the Mayors idea to pursue alternative energy. We need to get on this bus.
    By: Art
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  • Posted Date: 01/04/2013
    So then why are Nv energys rates going up again
    By: Get the facts
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  • Posted Date: 01/04/2013
    What a neat project! the article doesn't mention a subsidy. Please tell me there are no tax dollars involved here.
    By: Leo Black
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  • Posted Date: 01/04/2013
    I wonder why there are not more homes and schools with solar panels. Recently in Phoenix I saw dozens of homes with solar panels on the roof and I saw city buildings and ASU with solar panels. We should be able to get those here.
    By: ronnie
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  • Posted Date: 01/05/2013
    This doesn't mention how much this cost and who funded it. It's a great Story, sounds so easy to accomplish but doesn't have one bit of background information. @Joey , I really wish you would stop already with the hate speak about LDS. It's completely irrelevant and just plain bullying. I am not LDS and am offended for my friends and family members that are. @ronnie, the reason people don't have solar Panels is quite simply, they are very expensive and nobody has the money to invest. The people that do have the money do not see a return on their investment. Not rocket science here.
    By: Voice of Reason
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  • Posted Date: 01/06/2013
    Hey "voice of reason"-you must either work for opd or one of there flock. Lets look at the facts of past mesquite ripoffs,and then you will see the common thread. The library lot was purchased from "ripoff randy ence"at a ripoff price. The opd board and there financial ripoff of the Ratepayers is lds. Not all lds people are crooked,as italian people. But when the mob continues to rip the people off,well you can see the theme. In mesquite ,the mob just happens to be lds run- get it?
    By: Joey
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  • Posted Date: 01/08/2013
    Chu is Energy Secretary. John Salazar runs Interior.
    By: correction needed
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