Geothermal Energy Keeps Oregon Town Toasty
What do Yellowstone’s famous hot geysers have in common with the town of Klamath Falls, Oregon? Both rely on the earth’s natural geothermal properties to generate heat. In the case of the geysers, it’s a wondrous thing to see. For Klamath Falls, it’s an energy-efficient way to deal with winter’s chill.
Klamath Falls is located on top of a series of natural hot water wells and cracked hot rock. This steamy resource has been invaluable in keeping the town’s sidewalks ice and snow free since the 1990s. Geothermal energy also heats some of Klamath Fall’s buildings and provides the electricity to power the lights at a local college campus.
Only 0.5 percent of U.S. energy production uses geothermal energy - mainly in Western states. Very few areas have the right combination of hot water, hot rocks close enough to the surface and the right cracks in the rock to act as a reservoir. However, a technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) may compensate for areas lacking the geophysical properties of a place like Klamath Falls. Some see EGS as a viable investment to ensure a ‘greener’ energy future.