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Alaska Could Have the First Geothermal City in the U.S.

If all goes well, Nome, Alaska could be the first U.S. city to run on geothermal energy.

Right now, exploration holes are being drilled into the ground to find out if there is enough underground hot water to provide power for the city. If there is, the city will build a production facility and begin using the water for energy.

Pilgrim Hot Springs

Nome is located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast of Alaska and is home to around 3,600 residents. Its geothermal energy would be delivered from Pilgrim Hot Springs (listed on the Register of Historical Places), which is about 60 miles away. While the exploration occurs, drillers will not only make sure resources are sufficient, they will also stress the hot springs to see how they respond; if they respond well, the hot springs would also have the potential to support fish hatcheries and greenhouses.

It’s been estimated that 2-4 megawatts of electricity are available, which would cover much of the city’s electric needs. If this is the case and if the project is approved, Nome could have geothermal energy as soon as the end of 2014.

Funding & Partners

The state is spending about $6.2 million on exploration, which began with a grant from the Department of Energy and Alaska Energy Authority’s Renewable Energy Fund. Many research partners are on-board with the project including the University of Alaska’s Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP), the U.S. Geological Survey, Unataaq, and the private developer Potelco.

*Adapted from an article at sustainablebusiness.com*

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