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Peppermill Reno Harnessing Geothermal Power

Wednesday, October 07, 2009
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“Going Green” is a phrase that has become a part of our every day vernacular, and for good reason. Now and in the years ahead, it is critical that our country seek out and harvest new and better fuel alternatives. The prospect isn’t cheap nor is it easy.

As we continue to hear about economic woes and dismal predictions for recovery, the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno, Nevada has staked its claim in the here and now, and that claim is better than striking oil – it’s striking clean, reliable, renewable geothermal energy.

Along the way, the Peppermill has been quietly mindful of energy conservation – working to harness natural sources of energy, but their latest commitment to harvesting geothermal energy peaks the investment at $8.1 Million dollars. Like the industry they represent, the privately held resort took a gamble - drill a well that taps into the geothermal aquifer, betting on finding water at the correct temperature that could be captured and converted to energy through a closed loop system then returned to the earth via a reinjection well, which would heat the entire resort’s water and mechanical heat via geothermal energy.

Peppermill President, Bill Paganetti, engaged world-renowned geothermal expert, Dr. Jim Combs of Geo Hills Associates LLC of Reno, to consult on the existing historical data and information from earlier projects. Because the Peppermill already had a reinjection well on the property, Dr. Combs recommended a new geothermal well be drilled on the property. And the gamble paid off.

With no guarantees and just a steadfast commitment, the Peppermill has successfully hit proverbial pay dirt at over 4,400 feet, becoming geothermal energy innovators and making local history with a well of this magnitude. “No one else has a geothermal well of this depth in the city of Reno.” said Dean Parker, Facilities Director at the Peppermill. “In order for a well to produce the level of geothermal energy that could accomplish what we’ve set out to do, we need to find water at 170 degrees that can pump 800 gallons per minute at 80-90 psi. With this well, we found that and more.”

The ‘and more’ translates into enabling the Peppermill to harness geothermal energy that will heat 100% of the resort’s water and mechanical heat – 2.1 Million square feet, 24/7. If that isn’t enough, the projected January, 2010 target date for this project to be up and running is just as ambitious. According to Dr. Combs, “The green energy heating addition to the HVAC system at the Peppermill will now make it the only hotel in the United States whose heating source is totally provided from geothermal energy produced on their own immediate property.”

But the Peppermill doesn’t intend to stop there. As Alan Bailey, Geologist and Drilling Engineer with Geothermal Resource Group, Inc. says, “The Peppermill’s commitment to geothermal energy has been clearly demonstrated with the completion of Peppermill 8. They have also shown that they have long-term goals for further sustainable development….the advanced geophysical borehole logging will dramatically enhance future drilling operations.”

Peppermill’s newest geothermal endeavor will be showcased at the upcoming Geothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting and Geothermal Energy Expo, to be held at the Peppermill October 4-7. The expected 2,000 participants from the worldwide geothermal industry will have an on-site opportunity to view the project and hear details of this success story, furthering the adage that Peppermill’s prospects are looking greener every day.
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