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Western governors aim to harness geothermal ‘heat beneath our feet’

Gov. Cox says Utah is looking forward to partnering on ‘exciting initiative.’ Utah currently has utility-scale electricity generation from geothermal sources

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Drilling of a deep “deviated” well near Milford, Beaver County.

Drilling of a deep “deviated” well near Milford, Beaver County, recently began in project known as FORGE, which is using the first-of-its-kind technology to tap deep, renewable geothermal energy resources.

Eric Larson, Flash Point Salt Lake City

As incoming chairman of the Western Governors Association, Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has launched a bipartisan initiative that urges other Western states to utilize geothermal energy.

“Geothermal energy is an opportunity to save people money, boost local economies and help us achieve 100% renewable energy in Colorado by 2040,” Polis said in a statement.

“I look forward to making progress towards clean, lower-cost power through the Heat Beneath Our Feet initiative and the strong bipartisan partnership of the WGA that will lead geothermal energy innovation.”

Polis made the announcement at the association’s recent meetings in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

The initiative will examine opportunities for and barriers to the increased deployment of geothermal energy technologies for electricity generation and heating and cooling systems in western states. Much of the nation’s high-yield geothermal energy capacity is in the western United States.

A report on the initiative’s results will be released at the organization’s annual meeting next year in Boulder.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, tweeted his enthusiastic support for the initiative: “Utah is looking forward to working with Colorado and our other western governors on his exciting bipartisan geothermal initiative.”

Utah is one of just seven states with utility-scale electricity generation from geothermal sources. Geothermal energy is a key component of Cox’s energy and innovation plan unveiled in May.

The Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy in Beaver County or FORGE for short, is an international research and demonstration project intended to bring vast geothermal resources to market in a financially viable manner.

The Department of Energy is spending some $200 million to support the research.

FORGE seeks to tap renewable geothermal energy from wells thousands of feet deep where temperatures exceed 400 degrees.

Using enhanced geothermal technology that works like a radiator, steam would be generated to power turbines that convert it into energy.