Warm Springs, Montana

Key Project Information

Purpose: Geothermal exploration for electric power generation
Method: Aeromagnetics, magnetotelluric (MT) surveys, geology, and geochemistry, Broadband magnetotellurics (BMT) and low-frequency magnetotellurics (LMT)
Location: Warm Springs, MT
Client: State of Montana Department of Environmental Quality Conservation and Renewable Energy Office
End-User: Community-based Utility, State of Montana
Dates: 2009 - Present
Total Survey Area (5 sites): Greater than 1000 km2
Total Number of MT Stations: Greater than 6500
Client Reference: David LeMieux, w. 406.841.5244, DLeMieux2@mt.gov State of Montana

Project Summary

The Dewhurst Group (DG) is collaborating with the State of Montana Governor’s Office of Economic Development on a feasibility study for Montana’s first geothermal power plant. The survey area, Warm Springs, is located proximate to Yellowstone National Park and has a documented history of local geothermal activity. Although rich in geothermal potential, the Warm Springs region is economically depressed, and a priority of this project is to stimulate local economic growth.

Statement of Work

This project is a feasibility study to determine the location and potential of a known geothermal source. The ultimate goal of DG’s collaboration with the State of Montana is the development of a commercial, scalable, community-based, and low temperature (1 to 5 MW) geothermal power plant at Warm Springs. Although the concept of community-based utilities is not new, the use of geothermal energy within such a model is novel.

This ongoing activity has been endorsed by the State of Montana Department of Environmental Quality Conservation and Renewable Energy Office, which, in addition to committing toward obtaining all permitting and access agreements, is taking the lead role in organizing a technical advisory committee of all stake holding state agencies. The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, the Montana Department of Commerce, the Governor’s office, and the Economic Development Office have all endorsed this project and pledged their support. If Warm Springs proves a worthy site, the final business development model for economic stimulus will be developed within a follow-on Phase II activity with coordination by the State of Montana Department of Commerce.

Environment, Safety, and Cultural Awareness

DG is committed to minimally disrupting the land, stimulating the local economy, and respecting local culture. DG’s methods: 1) Are non-ground-disturbing; 2) Do not require an Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969; and 3) Qualified for a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

Schedule and Budget

This project has been ongoing since 2009. The total cost of work is projected to exceed $10 M.