Shoshone tribe breaks ground on geothermal plant

Honeyville, Utah (AP) 10-08

The Shoshone Nation once used natural hot water when they camped in the winter. Now the tribe is going back to that energy source.

Tribal leaders from the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation broke ground Oct. 2 on a 100-megawatt power plant. It’s the first of five geothermal plants planned by the Shoshone Nation’s economic-development arm.

The power will be sold to the city of Riverside, Calif.

The first $450 million steam plant – enough to power about 70,000 homes – is planned for an off-reservation spot near Honeyville, about 25 miles south of the Utah-Idaho border.

 

The tribe, which has a 189-acre reservation on the Utah-Idaho border, is leasing other lands from multiple private owners for its geothermal projects.

The tribe is exempt from federal income tax and can take advantage of a federal energy credit to more easily finance projects, said Michael Devine, chief operating officer for the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation Economic Development Corp.

Around-the-clock drilling has started at the Honeyville site at a cost of $21,000 a day, Devine said.

The drill will hit boiling water starting at about 8,000 feet underground, he said.

American Indians are perfectly suited to creating green energy, said Steven Morello, deputy assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs with the U.S. Department of Energy.

“This is their day to shine. This is their day to soar,” Morello said.

The tribe plans to build another geothermal plant near Preston, Idaho, at a spot near the site of a massacre of hundreds of the tribe’s men, women and children by federal troops in 1863. The winter encampment was at the site of hot springs that still exist today along the Beaver River.

The project has financial backing from Quincy, Mass.-based Meridian Investments LLC and the Ireland-based LotusWorks.