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Geothermal District Heating Systems

Klamath Falls, Oregon

Location: Klamath County, Oregon
Owner: City of Klamath Falls
Capacity: 16 MBtu/hr (4.7 MW)
Temperature: 210°F (99°C)
Startup date: March 20, 1984
Developer: the city of Klamath Falls
Cost: $ 2,580,000 (for the initial construction)

The city of Klamath Falls, Oregon, is located near a geothermal resource that has provided heating for homes, businesses, schools and institutions for many years.

The district heating system was constructed in 1981 to initially serve 14 government buildings and 120 residents with some limited capacity for expansion. Total cost of the project was $2.58 million, consisting of 65% federal funds and the remainder from city, county and state funds.

The district heating system was originally designed for a thermal capacity of 20 million Btu/hr (5.9 MW thermal). At peak heating, the buildings on the system utilized only about 20% of the system thermal capacity and revenue from heating those buildings was inadequate to sustain system operation. This led the city to begin a marketing campaign in 1992 to add more customers to the system.

The City developed a flat rate for heat customers, which for most is about 50% of the costs for gas heat. New customers are connected directly into the distribution system with district loop water used as the building heating medium. This eliminates the customer’s need for a heat exchanger, thus reducing potential retrofit costs to participate. The state also operates two financial incentive programs. The first one offers businesses a 35% tax credit on the costs associated with connection to the district heating system and the second one provides loans to cover the entire cost of the energy project.

As well as being used to heat buildings, Geothermal water is also piped under Klamath City’s roads and sidewalks to keep them from icing. The snowmelt systems have been incorporated into a downtown redevelopment project along Main Street which started in 1995. The heated sidewalk and crosswalk area currently served by the systems is over 60,000 ft2.

In 2003 and 2004, with assistance from the Department of Energy, the district heating system was upgraded to a thermal capacity of 36 MBtu/hr, allowing more customers to use the system. The control system has also been fully updated and integrated into the City Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, which monitors the water and wastewater systems.

References and Additional Information:

Geothermal District Heating System Institutional Factors the Klamath Falls Experience. Paul J. Lienau, Geo-Heat Center, Oregon Institute of Technology.

target="_blank"City of Klamath Falls District Heating website

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