The city of Nome, Alaska could be the first in the US to be powered by geothermal – right now, exploration holes are being drilled deep into the ground.
With about 3600 residents, the city rests on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on Norton Sound of the Bering Sea.
Geothermal would be delivered to the city from Pilgrim Hot Springs, 60 miles away. After several years of research, exploratory drilling will confirm the amount of hot water is sufficient to supply the city’s power. If so, a production facility will be built in Nome along with transmission lines from the hot springs.
Estimates are that 2-4 megawatts of electricity are available, enough to supply most of the city’s needs. The goal is for Nome to begin receiving geothermal electricity by the end of next year. The hot springs, listed on the Register of Historic Places, would also have the potential for greenhouses and fish hatcheries in addition to tourism.
The huge drilling tube:
The project started with a grant from the Department of Energy and Alaska Energy Authority’s Renewable Energy Fund. Research partners are the US Geological Survey, the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) based at University of Alaska/ Fairbanks, Unataaq – a consortium of seven local Native corporations – and Potelco, a private developer.
‘Our Board and Community members have been watching ACEP’s work with interest, since the stable pricing and diversity of developing geothermal power could have significant economic benefit to our region,’ says Barb Nickels, executive director of Nome Chamber of Commerce, which made a donation to support the project.