Energy in Oregon

Geothermal energy comes from the internal heat of the earth, found in rocks and fluids at various depths. 
Geothermal in Paisley Oregon
Geothermal heat is used to generate electricity and directly heat buildings. Traditionally, steam turbines and very high-temperature geothermal resources were used to create electricity. More recent technological innovations have enabled electricity generation at lower temperatures.

Most of the nation’s geothermal generation is in the West. Challenges geothermal developers face include high upfront costs, resource uncertainty, and dealing with environmentally sensitive areas.

Geothermal Energy in Oregon

In Oregon, areas with the greatest geothermal potential are located in the central and southeastern parts of the state. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has developed an interactive mapping tool  of geothermal resources. Similarly, the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries created an interactive map o​f geothermal springs and wells in Oregon.

Geothermal for Electricity Generation

Oregon’s first geothermal power plant began operating in 2010 at the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls. The initial electricity-generating capacity was 280 kilowatts. A second plant at OIT generates 1.75​ megawatts of power.

In 2012, U.S. Geothermal Inc. brought online a 22-megawatt facility at Neal Hot Springs near the eastern Oregon town of Vale. In 2015, a 3.1-megawatt geothermal power plant began operating in Paisley. ​Other geothermal opportunities are being explored in Lake County at Crump Geyser and Glass Butte. ​

Unlike other forms of renewable energy, geothermal projects provide a more constant source of electricity. By providing reliable baseload power, these facilities help to offset traditional fossil fuel power plants and support integration of more renewables onto the grid.


Geothermal for Heating

The City of Klamath Falls uses geothermal energy to heat buildings, homes, pools, and even melt snow and ice from sidewalks and roads. In Lakeview, a geothermal well system is now being used to heat school properties and hospital buildings.

Other examples of direct use of geothermal heat in the state include drying agricultural products, aquaculture (raising fish), heating greenhouses, and heating swimming pools at spas and resorts. Hot springs resorts are widespread in Oregon, including those in Ashland, Belknap, Breitenbush and Hot Lake.