On Monday, March 16, Mayor Dave Bieter and Boise State University President Bob Kustra gave a warm welcome to the underground geothermal system that has heated houses along Warm Springs Avenue for more than 100 years and another 58 “customers” at the City of Boise since 1983. Now, with the help of more than $2 million from the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill signed by President Obama on March 11, the current geothermal system will extend to Boise State University.
The project is expected to open more than 20 new jobs over a six to eight month period and is also expected to save BSU money — more than $80,000 per year in heating costs initially, with more savings to come as more buildings are added to the plan.
The $2,065,000 appropriation comes as a result of the combined efforts by Congressman Mike Simpson (more than $1.4 million from the Department of Energy) and Senator Mike Crapo ($665,000 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development).
The project is slated to be fulfilled in two phases. Phase one will extend the downtown geothermal system across the Boise River at Capitol Boulevard and connect it to BSU (see map above). Five BSU buildings are ready to be retrofitted for geothermal heating (more than 280,000 square feet of building space). The city hopes to use federal stimulus money to fund phase two, which will complete the geothermal loop by connecting the system at BSU back to the city’s system along Broadway Avenue (see map above).
“This project will create jobs, save money and provide a clean, renewable and efficient source of energy to Boise State for years to come,” Mayor Bieter said.
Kustra is looking forward to seeing this project that has been planned for some time, come to fruition. “Geothermal heating encourages Boise State’s already strong commitment to environmental stewardship, sustainability and economic judiciousness,” Kustra said. “Another benefit is the hands-on research opportunities it affords for our students and faculty as we explore clean energy development.”
The city’s current geothermal system pumps water hotter than 170 degrees from the ground near St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, distributes it through the downtown area and re-injects it into the geothermal aquifer near Julia Davis Park, heating approximately 3.8 million square feet of building space, including the Federal Courthouse, City Hall, Boise High School, Ada County Courthouse and the Boise Centre on the Grove.