TIMBERMILL SHORES GEOTHERMAL UTILITIES
Klamath Falls is blessed with a tremendous natural resource in the form of renewable, sustainable, geothermal energy. The geothermal energy results from water that circulates several thousand feet deep in the earth's crust, is heated by residual heat from the region's volcanic past, and flows up through faults to near-surface aquifers. The water temperature is about 226°F in the hottest areas near the faults. Geothermal heat has long been used locally to heat private residences as well as schools, churches, government, and commercial buildings.
In 1980, the City of Klamath Falls began developing a geothermal district heating system to serve commercial and public buildings in the downtown area. Geothermal water is pumped out of the ground from two production wells along Old Fort Road, circulates through heat exchangers to heat a district heating loop and is injected back into the geothermal aquifer. The district heating loop supplies water at about 180°F to the customers on the system. The system currently supplies space heating for 24 buildings totaling about 400,000 square feet, and about 170,000 square feet of commercial greenhouses. Studies have shown that the system has capacity for further expansion, so the decision was made to offer the benefits of geothermal energy to the properties in the new Timbermill Shores development.
Timbermill Shores is the first development in Klamath Falls to include geothermal energy in the basic utility infrastructure. Geothermally heated water is provided to every lot for space heating, domestic hot water heating, pool or spa heating, or other heating applications. A typical 12,000 square foot commercial building heated by geothermal energy can expect to save about 6,000 therms of natural gas per year and reduce annual carbon emissions by 32 metric tons of carbon dioxide compared to heating with natural gas. At build-out, the Timbermill Shores development is expected to include about 740,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial and residential building space. Expected energy savings from geothermal use would be about 370,000 therms per year of natural gas, offsetting about 2,000 metric tons per year of CO2 emissions.
Timbermill Shores also includes a geothermal snowmelt system designed to serve all the public and private sidewalks in the development. Phase 1 of the development currently includes about 27,000 square feet of public sidewalks and crosswalks, which will be kept ice-free by geothermally heated antifreeze solution circulated through about 5 miles of special plastic tubing under the sidewalks. The snowmelt loop is heated using return water in the district heating loop, after it is used to heat the buildings.
Brian Brown, P.E.