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Crapo obtains funding in Senate bill that could bring geothermal to Boise State

Boise - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has obtained committee approval for federal funding in a Senate bill that could allow the City of Boise's Public Works Department to expand the use of geothermal heat and potentially carry it across the Boise River for use at Boise State University. Crapo designated $250,000 in the Fiscal Year 2008 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The funding must still be approved by the full Senate, but final passage is expected.

"This funding will see that the largest cutting-edge, renewable energy program of its kind in the nation is brought across the Boise River to a cutting-edge research university in a city known for its cutting-edge technology," Senator Crapo said.

"This initial appropriation is an important step forward in the installation of geothermal heating on the Boise State campus," said University President Bob Kustra. "When the overall project is completed, it will provide a significant benefit to Boise State for heating our expanding infrastructure in a locally available, sustainable manner. The availability of geothermal heating also offers our faculty and students new research opportunities."

Boise Mayor David Bieter said, "We are truly blessed to have a renewable, non-polluting resource like geothermal so readily available in our community. Senator Crapo and the entire congressional delegation deserve credit for the collaborative efforts in making this funding a reality."

The City of Boise's geothermal system is the largest direct use geothermal system in the United States. The City finished a major improvement on their geothermal system in January which injects all the used water directly back into the aquifer.

"Since the City began injecting 100% of the water back into the ground in January, the aquifer is almost at the same level when the system was built in the early 1980s," Public Works Director Chuck Mickelson said. "Injection into the aquifer provides positive results and makes possible expanding use of the environmentally friendly and efficient geothermal heating system to the Boise State Campus." Currently, The City's system is host to 58 customers heating almost 4 million square feet of space throughout the downtown including the Banner Bank building, Washington Mutual and Boise City Hall.