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New geothermal project approved for Burley

Federal officials have approved the first geothermal project on Idaho’s public land since the 1980s.

The project by Walker Ranch Energy will include a plant about 13 miles south of Malta, The Times-News reported.

“While the timeline for power production is not yet known, we are pleased to move forward with Walker Ranch Energy as they begin the process of adding clean, renewable energy resources to Idaho’s portfolio,” said Ken Crane, field manager of the Bureau of Land Management office in Burley.

The power plant will be built on private property, but up to 22 wells will be drilled on 200 acres managed by the BLM office.

Geothermal liquid will be piped from BLM land to the binary power plant and used to heat a secondary fluid to turn turbines.

The operation is expected to eventually produce 25 megawatts of energy.

Royalties will be shared between the BLM and the state of Idaho.

The project will include a mitigation plan for sage grouse and ferruginous hawks. Agency officials will also work to reduce the impacts ton wildlife, visual resources, vegetation and air quality.

Steve Lubinski, a BLM geologist, says a 2000 report showed there is an estimated 100 megawatt geothermal energy potential in the Malta area.

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