Salt River Project has signed an agreement to purchase energy from a geothermal power plant in southwest New Mexico. The utility said Thursday it will receive 10 megawatts of electricity - enough to serve about 5,500 homes.
Called the Lightning Dock geothermal power plant, it will be operated by Provo, Utah-based Raser Technologies. The $35 million plant is expected to begin operating in December.It will use hot water from deep underground to produce electricity.
Raser officials believe the site has sufficient heat and water flows to expand the plant beyond the initial 10 megawatts, and SRP has the right to purchase any additional capacity developed there.
The site is located in the Animas Valley of Hidalgo County, south of Lordsburg.
The hot water, which remains a liquid because it's under high pressure, will be brought to the surface by wells and put into a heat exchanger. There it will boil a second fluid that flashes into steam, which will run a turbine generator, said Raser spokesman Richard Putnam.
The geothermal water then is injected back into the ground, where it is reheated and the process begins again, he said.
Geothermal is considered a sustainable energy source because the hot water is continually recycled. Also the water supply can be replenished by rainfall, while heat is constantly produced inside the earth.
The process is considered nonpolluting."