El Paso County Geothermal Electric Generation Project: Innovative Research Technologies Applied to the Geothermal Resource Potential at Ft. Bliss Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title El Paso County Geothermal Electric Generation Project: Innovative Research Technologies Applied to the Geothermal Resource Potential at Ft. Bliss
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act: Geothermal Technologies Program
Project Type / Topic 2 Validation of Innovative Exploration Technologies
Project Description A dynamic and technically capable project team has been assembled to evaluate the commercial viability of geothermal resources on the Ft. Bliss Military Reservation with a focus on the McGregor Test Range. Driving the desire of Ft. Bliss and El Paso County to assess the commercial viability of the geothermal resources are four factors that have converged in the last several years. The first is that Ft. Bliss will be expanding by nearly 30,000 additional troops, an expansion which will significantly increase utilization of energy resources on the facility. Second is the desire for both strategic and tactical reasons to identify and control a source of power than can directly provide the forward fire bases with “off grid” electricity in the event of a major power outage. In the worst case, this power can be sold to the grid and be used to reduce energy costs at the main Ft. Bliss installation in El Paso. Finally, Congress and the Department of Defense have mandated that Ft. Bliss and other military reservations obtain specified percentages of their power from renewable sources of production. The geothermal resource to be evaluated, if commercially viable, could provide Ft. Bliss with all the energy necessary to meet these goals now and in the future. To that end, the garrison commander has requested a target of 20 megawatts as an initial objective for geothermal resources on the installation. Finally, the County government has determined that it not only wishes to facility this effort by Ft. Bliss, but would like to reduce its own reliance on fossil based energy resources to provide power for current and future needs.
State Texas
Objectives -Determine if, and where, commercially viable low temperature geothermal resources exist in the McGregor test area – or if necessary at other lesser know sites that exist on the Ft. Bliss Military Reservation – and to determine at what location they can be best accessed without compromising the tactical and strategic missions of the base

-Determine if resources that do have adequate temperatures also have a flow rate and volume to justify commercial development at any scale with an eye toward the 20 megawatt target identified by the base -If the resource is adequate, determine where production facilities can be located for the production of power, as well as if, and how, such facilities and be used to power the McGregor Range installation and how such power can be returned to the grid for use at Ft. Bliss

Awardees (Company / Institution) El Paso County
Awardee Website http://www.epcounty.com/
Partner 1 Ft. Bliss Military Reservation
Partner 2 Energy and Geoscience Institute, University of Utah
Partner 3 AeroSpect, LLC

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000109
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $5,000,000.00
Awardee Cost Share $4,812,500.00
Total Project Cost $9,812,500.00

Principal Investigator(s) Jon Lear, Ruby Mountain Inc.

Targets / Milestones The project will be implemented in the following phases:

-Phase 1: Exploration and Resource Evaluation -Phase 2: SlimHole Drilling -Phase 3: Resource Testing and Assessment

Location of Project El Paso, TX

Impacts First application of chemostratigraphy to geothermal exploration. The technology holds promise for building genetic models for potential geothermal aquifers. Small footprint drilling could open up new areas as it reduces overall environmental impact and mobility of rigs. The project is located in Texas which expands geothermal into a new state while providing benefits to a government installation.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs