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Ormat Technologies proposing geothermal plant near Gerlach

Debra Reid

Nevada News Group

A look from at the McGinness Hills Geothermal Facility near Austin, Nevada, one of several geothermal plants operated in Nevada by Ormat Technologies.
Courtesy Photo

GERLACH, Nev. — The BLM Winnemucca District announced Oct. 1 it’s accepting “pre-scoping” comments for 60 days on a new geothermal energy project proposed about a mile northwest of Gerlach.

November 30 is the deadline for input on the Ormat Technologies project in remote Washoe County.

“Public input is important in the early stages of project development to ensure appropriate energy development on public lands,” Winnemucca District Manager Ester McCullough said.

According to an Oct. 1 press release from the BLM’s Black Rock Field Office, initial public feedback will help the BLM decide between an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as the next step in project analysis.

An EIS is a more in-depth and time-consuming assessment of a project’s long-term environmental, social and economic impacts.

“An EIS would require the BLM to take a hard look at cumulative impacts in every section of the analysis including climate impacts, surface and groundwater impacts, air quality, infrastructure, wildlife and much more,” explained Citizens for a Healthy Community.

News of the proposed Gerlach project comes after Ormat received $5.3 million of grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy this summer for research and development projects in Nevada.

It also comes a few months after the company, which operates several projects in Nevada — including the McGinness Hills complex in Lander County — announced its Steamboat Hills geothermal power plant near South Reno achieved commercial operation on June 6.

Ormat’s proposal includes two 24-megawatt geothermal power plants, an electrical substation and up to 23 geothermal production and injection wells.

There would be about 4.6 miles of above-ground pipelines and a 26-mile, 120 kilovolt overhead power line from one of the power plants to NV Energy’s North Valley Substation in the San Emidio Desert south of Gerlach.

On jobs, Ormat said eight months of construction work would require about 50 people. Once operating, the project would need 15 to 20 employees, with about one or two staff operating the power plants at any given time.

If approved, Ormat intends to have the 162.8 acre geothermal energy project up and running by late 2022 and says the estimated “life of the project” will be 50 years. 

To request information, including the “Gerlach Geothermal Development Project Utilization Plan,” contact Geologist Tai Subia, Geothermal Lead for the Winnemucca District’s Mineral Division. Requests and pre-scoping comments can be emailed to her at tsubia@blm.gov.

NNBW Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.


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