Oregon Institute of Technology’s Klamath Falls campus dedicated its new geothermal electric project today in a ceremony on the OIT campus. The event was followed by tours of the power plant.

This “small” power plant is the first geothermal combined heat and power plant in Oregon, and the only geothermal electric plant currently operating in the state. It has a maximum capacity output of 280 kilowatts gross power utilizing existing wells on the campus. The small plant is located in the southeast corner of the campus near the production wells.

Speakers at today’s event were: John Lund, professor emeritus and director of the Geo-Heat Center; Oregon State Rep. Bill Garrard; Peter West, Director of Energy Programs for Energy Trust of Oregon; and Bob Simonton, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Capital Programs, Oregon University System. Others attending the event were elected officials, Energy Trust of Oregon representatives, OIT students, and local dignitaries. The Klamath Union High School Jazz band performed.

Geothermal energy is one of the many renewable energy technologies gaining recognition as energy independence and conservation catches hold in the public imagination. This is the first geothermal combined heat and power plant in Oregon and the only such project currently generating electricity in the state. OIT – and the Klamath Falls area – has a long history of geothermal utilization. OIT has used geothermal energy since the mid-1960s for heating buildings and sidewalks.

A second “big” power plant is planned, too. The 1.2 megawatt project will utilize a 5,300-foot deep well drilled in 2009. The big project is expected to be complete in 2012.

OIT is home to the Geo-Heat Center, a national clearinghouse for geothermal energy established in 1975.