SALEM, OR -- The Oregon House unanimously passed legislation on Thursday that would urge the U.S. Department of Energy to build a new geothermal research lab in Deschutes County. The DOE's Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy, known as "FORGE," is looking for a new location.
Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) was the key sponsor of the bill. "The purpose of FORGE is to do enhanced research on enhanced geothermal systems, to develop large-scale heat exchange systems," Whisnant says. "We're competing with several other states, and that's why we're doing the resolution."
Whisnant believes Oregon has an advantage over other states due to the proximity to the private Altarock Newberry Geothermal Project, which is already working with the DOE and Oregon State University.
He says the lab would provide an economic boost to the area."They estimate the DOE will fund the national lab at $30 million a year, in addition to 310 construction jobs for the lab," Whisnant says. "And they expect 100 permanent jobs in the operational phase."