Reno plans worlds largest geothermal heating district

Issue 2 and Volume 101.

Reno plans world`s largest geothermal heating district

Reno Energy LLC and the University of Nevada, Reno, are joining forces to create the world`s largest heating district using geothermal heat. The district will offer customers heating and cooling at costs 35 to 55 percent less than traditional heating sources.

Reno Energy will tap into the area`s geothermal reserves to create a heating district with the potential to heat 30 million square feet of industrial and commercial space in the fast-growing area south of Reno. “Not only would customers realize savings from the district itself, but there are numerous state, federal and local tax incentives to using a clean, renewable resource like geothermal,” said Ron Burch, Reno Energy president and CEO.

Reno Energy and Stone & Webster Engineering Corp. have worked together to develop the project and have signed agreements for the engineering and construction of the heating district. The estimated value of the project is $32 million. Reno Energy has filed applications for a geothermal operating permit with the Public Service Commission of Nevada, with construction planned to begin in April. Customer hookups should begin at the end of 1997, Burch said.

Wells within the area`s Steamboat Hills Geothermal Field extract hot groundwater from fault zones 600 to 2,000 feet below ground. This water averages 315 F and is used to run the turbines at the Steamboat Power Plant. The brine left over from the generation process is currently reinjected back into the geothermal zone from which it originated. Reno Energy will use this leftover energy from the hot water, and additional energy from geothermal wells, to heat fresh water in a heat exchanger. The geothermal brine will then be returned to the geothermal source, as required by state law. The fresh water will be heated to 240 F and circulated through a closed-loop underground pipeline, supplying heat to customers. The customer will be connected to the geothermal network through a heat exchanger, a metering device and branch lines. Within 5 miles of the geothermal resource are businesses and industrial parks totaling 1,514 acres and a potential for more than 30 million square feet of building space.