CEO responds to Searchlight NM's geothermal article
It is rare to see a story written with such misleading statements, outright falsehoods, and
shocking distortions of the truth. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you have in a syndicated story distributed to you by Searchlight NM about the geothermal energy industry in New Mexico.
There’s a very positive story about the success of geothermal energy in this state, its low carbon footprint, its round the clock, 100% renewable energy, and its vital role in meeting the renewable energy standards for the state of New Mexico.
Instead, very irresponsibly, the story is outright wrong, with a strong bias against renewable energy, and a shocking disregard for what’s true about the only utility-scale geothermal plant in our state.
The main contention of the story is that the Lightning Dock Geothermal plant near Lordsburg has damaged the local aquifer and contaminated the freshwater resources. Well, absolutely none of that is true and there is no evidence whatsoever that it is. Our system is closed loop, which means the water comes up, provides energy by extracting the heat, and goes back down. That’s the beauty of geothermal.
Over the five years of continuous operation, the plant has consumed no water for energy, and there are no contaminants placed in the water. Never. Thus, the aquifer has not been damaged in any way and there has been no contamination.
A few egregious examples of getting the facts wrong. The story starts with an anecdote about a 10-foot geyser of a well near the plant. As it turns out, the well wasn’t our well, had been out of compliance for years, there was no geyser that ever came to our attention, and we capped it as a favor to the landowner. It wasn’t a geyser, but a trickle, and it was a faulty cap, not a geothermal blowout. We just did a good deed for a neighbor. There is also a separate monitoring well very close to this well.
The story stated that our tracer test “killed hundreds of thousands” of fish. In fact, no fish were killed. How can they say that hundreds of thousands of fingerlings (small fish) died when none did?
The story says that there is no regulatory oversight and no avenues of protest. Absolutely irresponsible. We are regulated by the state under the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and there is an easy and straightforward way to protest, as one of our neighbors did in 2015. The fact is that there have been relatively few protests in the past few years, because there is nothing to protest.
In addition, the story refers to the “geothermal toxins” that are contaminating the freshwater resources. However, since no water actually touches a chemical of any kind in our geothermal plant, there are no geothermal toxins introduced by the plant. Further, the geothermal brine at Lightning Dock meets New Mexico drinking water standards in all categories, except for Fluoride, which has been naturally high in the Animas Valley for millions of years.
We could go on with dozens of examples of such outright distortions, written in a biased manner, without consultation. On that subject, the reporter wrote, “Cyrq declined multiple interview requests and did not respond to email questions.” What the writer did not say is that we offered her an exclusive to our story, with full cooperation, full access to the plant and all the managers when the plant celebrates its Re-Grand Opening this spring. She turned that down.
Geothermal energy is a great renewable energy that emits no carbon into the atmosphere, provides critical power around the clock and not just when the sun shines, has a very small footprint compared to wind or solar energy, and is an important component for reaching the renewable energy goals in the Governor’s new renewable energy plan. We need to support it and cultivate it, not tear it down with outright wrong and misleading reporting. We look to the future, with clean, safe, responsible geothermal energy, here for the long run.
Nick Goodman is the CEO of Cyrq Energy, which runs the Lightning Dock Geothermal plant in Animas.