First geothermal plant in New Mexico begins operations

Created: 04/03/2014 6:41 PM
By: Jorge Torres, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Deep in the New Mexico Bootheel, an operation that's been ongoing since this past December has tapped into an energy source that's right underneath us.

No. We're not talking about fossil fuels.

"It's been known for 4 decades that there's geothermal product that's right here right under our feet, and it's a viable source from which we can tap and produce electrical power," said Chuck Smiley from Lightning Dock Geothermal.

Lightning Dock, along with PNM, are now extracting that "geothermal product," which is a renewable resource.

Simply put, it's hot water pumped from reservoirs hundreds of feet below the ground. Heat from the earth's core warms up the water-to temperatures up to 300 degrees. That water helps produce electricity.

That same water is then re-injected into the underground reservoirs, so the water is continuously recycled.

It's been used throughout the west for decades and the Land of Enchantment is finally tapping in.

This plant is the first of its kind right in the state and it can produce up to 4 megawatts of energy, which is enough to power 4,000 homes.

Unlike wind and solar power, it runs 24/7 uninterrupted.

"That's the real difference between the geothermal product and other renewable resources," Smiley said.

By next year, the plant will be capable to provide electricity up to 10,000 homes in New Mexico.

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