|Feb 18, 2014 --
By Pam Swires, USDA Community Programs Specialist
Anderson Engineering and Surveying, Inc. was one of four entrants, out of twenty, who received the 2013 Engineering Excellence Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Oregon for the development and construction of the Town of Lakeview’s geothermal project funded with USDA Rural Development Community Facility Loan Funds.
Anderson’s entry emphasized how a small community with forward thinking leadership achieved an ambitious goal that will make a difference in community development. With $3, 639,250 in Rural Development Community Facility funding, the Town was able to create a sustainable, zero carbon emission heating system that will save local public institutions (hospital and four schools) millions of dollars. Prior to installing the pipeline, the Lake Health Hospital District had undergone an extensive remodel with RD Community Facility funding ($8.5 million direct; $10 million guaranteed) which included the mechanism for making it “geothermal ready.” The Town also received $1.8 million from the Oregon Department of Energy for retrofitting the four schools to the new system.
The geothermal heat is being used to replace the conventional boiler heating system. These old boilers will now be used as backup, should there be a need to temporarily take the geothermal system offline. The naturally occurring geothermal water is pumped from a constructed source well to the local hospital and school buildings. The distribution pipe is specially insulated to prevent heat loss. The heat from the 190°F water is extracted by plate heat exchangers and after circulating through all five buildings return to the re-injection well at 100°F--still warm enough to accommodate additional buildings.
The source well was located in a culturally sensitive area. An archaeological team from the University of Oregon, partnering with members of the Klamath and Burns Paiute Tribes, performed detailed site surveys to ensure the project would have minimal impact on cultural resources. A member from one of the two tribes was available throughout the trenching process to monitor for cultural resources. Prior to construction, the contractors and their subs were given a two-hour cultural resource class by Perry Chocktoot, Culture and Heritage Director for the Klamath Tribes, to make them aware of the types of material considered cultural resources requiring the intervention/validation of on-site tribal monitors.
The project will provide the community with sustainable benefits, including job creation, expanded services, and improved air quality. Money previously spent on fossil fuels can now be used to hire additional staff at the schools and hospital, as well as create expanded health and educational programs. Approximate cost for the geothermal heating: $14.99 per million BTUs; propane @ $2.25/gal: $24.64/ million BTUs; fuel oil @ $3.50/gal: $25.00/million BTUs; electricity @ $0.85/KwHr: $24.90/ million BTUs. Area carbon emissions will be reduced by 850 TONS per year, improving air quality in Lakeview.
This project proved that geothermal heating is feasible for public building applications and can provide tremendous benefits for small communities.