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BLM sells record $28.2M geothermal leases in Nev.

Aug 6, 2008 - The Associated Press

Federal land managers sold a record $28.2 million in geothermal leases in eight northern Nevada counties this week, including one parcel where the rights to produce energy from hot water and steam beneath the earth sold for $1,000 per acre.

The Reno-based ENEL Geothermal LLC paid the U.S. Bureau of Land Management more than $2.7 million for the 2,707-acre parcel in Churchill County - one of 35 parcels totaling 105,312 acres of public lands made available under the 10-year leases.

Last August, when the BLM sold $11.7 million worth of geothermal leases in Nevada, the highest bid was $520 per acre.

As of early this year, Nevada had 40 geothermal projects in development - more than any other state.

The most expensive single parcel sold this week went to Standard Steam Trust LLC of Denver for $3.2 million.

Three parcels in Churchill County, consolidated and offered as a block, sold for $585 per acre, bringing in $6.9 million from Magma Energy US Corp. of Reno.

Under new regulations and a competitive leasing process implemented by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale of geothermal leases go to the state, 25 percent to the county and 25 percent to the federal government.

Nevada will receive about $14 million from the lease sales while a total of more than $7 million will be realized by the counties involved - Churchill, Elko, Esmeralda, Humboldt, Lander, Mineral, Nye and Pershing.

In addition to the bonus bids, the geothermal producers will pay rental costs of $2 per acre for the first year, plus a one-time $140 per lease fee. The annual rental fee increases over the 10 year lease to $5 per acre.