U.S. Geothermal announced this week a strategic partnership with Enbridge, one of North America's largest operators of oil and liquids pipelines.
Under the deal, Enbridge will invest $23.8 million toward the development of Geothermal's Neal Hot Springs project in Oregon. The buy-in will net Enbridge a 20% direct ownership in the operation.
This is another major step for the junior geothermal sector (they seem to be coming faster and faster these days).
Endorsement from a company the size of Enbridge is striking in and of its self. Even more intriguing is the fact Enbridge is stepping well outside of its usual line of business to make this acquisition.
Expect this trend to continue. Companies in perceived "dirty" businesses (like oil shipping) are under pressure to green themselves. Buying into clean energy like geothermal fits the bill. To boot, the economics on geothermal projects are attractive. And the sector hasn't taken off the way wind and solar have, meaning project stakes are still available at reasonable prices.
The Enbridge example is going to get coal producers, chemical makers and perhaps even mining companies interested. There's more attention to come for America's hot water reservoirs.
By. Dave Forest of Notela Resources