About $5 million in federal stimulus money will soon make its way to Louisiana Geothermal, an up-and-coming company that boasts it will be able to produce enough energy within the next two years to power all of Cameron Parish. In fact, research suggests there's enough alternative energy to power the parish for more than 130 years. The Cameron company is overseeing the Sweet Lake Geopressured-Geothermal Project, which is located on 36,000 acres just north of the Intracoastal Canal. Locals have known that a geopressured-geothermal system has been there since the '80s, but only recently have investments started to surface. Geopressured energy is derived from hot, pressurized waters trapped deep in the earth's sedimentary formations. The water, heated by the earth's natural processes, can be used to generate electrical power. U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is among the lawmakers pushing the issue for the Bayou State. "Louisiana may be sitting atop a mother lode of clean, renewable energy if we can successfully harness the earth's natural heat through geothermal energy," Landrieu says.
George Jordan, president of Louisiana Geothermal, says the political climate couldn't be better for his company. "We believe that this grant, combined with current national support for developing clean, renewable energy, provides Louisiana Geothermal with a cost-effective opportunity to develop this new energy," he says. The federal funds will be used to pay for a portion of the total costs associated with the project, which includes drilling a well and building a geopressured power plant. It is one of 11 projects selected for development of new low-temperature geothermal fields nationwide. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that geothermal energy projects could supply up to 10 percent of America's electric power within the next 20 years — an extraordinary potential, given that geothermal resources currently supply only a fraction of a percent of U.S. electricity, Landrieu says. — Jeremy Alford