July 07, 2010

Geothermal Expanding Across Broadway Bridge

Senator, Mayor, Boise State see historic move for renewable energy

Boise - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and representatives from Boise State University announced the further expansion of renewable and natural geothermal heat in Boise.

The expansion will mark phase two of a project to bring geothermal heat across the Boise River. The first phase, announced in the spring of 2009, will bring the geothermal pipeline across the Capitol Bridge. Phase two of the project, funded partly by grant money from the Department of Energy, will complete the geothermal loop back across the Broadway Avenue bridge.

When completed, Phase two will close the loop and make the system more reliable. Phase two will also opens the door for businesses near campus to eventually take advantage of the renewable energy source.

A majority of the funding for the project comes from federal appropriations won through the efforts of Sen. Crapo and Congressman Mike Simpson. Both Dept. of Energy and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development funds will be used in the project.

"Our geothermal system is a clean and affordable source of energy," Mayor David Bieter said. "Boise is fortunate to have this natural asset; it's our duty to maximize it's effectiveness by extending its reach as far as possible."

"This strong partnership between government and the private sector allows us to make the investment in this renewable resource that will save energy costs and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels over the long haul," said Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "Boise's efforts have made it a world leader in the use of geothermal energy."

Campus buildings connecting to the system are the Morrison Center, Multi Purpose Class Room, Interactive Learning Center, Administration Building, Student Union Building, the Math and Geosciences Building, Center for Environmental Sciences and Economic Development (CESD) Nursing Building and the Student Wellness Center (NORCO Bldg). When completed, approximately

625,000 square feet of building space will be heated from geothermal energy.

The City of Boise has operated a geothermal district heating system since 1983. Natural geothermal water hotter than 170 degrees is pumped from the ground near St. Luke's Regional Medical Center, distributed through the downtown area and re-injected into the geothermal aquifer near Julia Davis Park. The system currently serves 58 customers, heating approximately 3.8 million square feet of building space.

Several buildings benefiting from this low-cost, environmentally-friendly heating source are publicly owned, including the Federal Courthouse, City Hall, Boise High School, Ada County Courthouse, and the Boise Centre on the Grove. In the course of a year, the system circulates more than 190 million gallons of water through approximately 13 miles of pipeline. The system was always envisioned and designed to serve Boise State University