Planet Gore

Finally, a Use for Alaska’s Volcanoes

Alaska going geothermal:

Want to buy some hot water? A lot of hot water? Maybe even enough to supply Anchorage with cheap, clean, reliable geothermal energy for years to come?

That’s essentially the proposition Alaska land managers floated recently while trying to lease geothermal rights to state land on the south slope of Mount Spurr, Anchorage’s neighboring volcano. The response was heartening.

A quarter century ago, the state made the same offer — and no one seemed to care. Only one of 16 tracts in the 1983 Mount Spurr lease sale found a bidder (a contract that was eventually forfeited).

This time, however, the state received offers on all 16 tracts, including $3.52 million in winning bids from Ormat Technologies Inc., one of the world’s largest developers of geothermal power plants.

The sudden show of interest from credible corporations — including Iceland America Energy Inc., which bid and lost — both pleased and surprised the state’s renewable energy crowd.

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