Geothermal Energy at Fort Bliss

When alternative energy is mentioned in El Paso, the thought that most often comes to mind is solar power. With El Paso bathed in sunlight most of the year, that’s natural. Some attention also is given to wind power, but one source rarely mentioned is geothermal power. That’s the heat emanating from the Earth’s core, heat that can be harnessed and used to generate electricity.

El Paso Commissioners Court is taking a close look at geothermal possibilities, and that’s a welcome, forward-looking attitude. On Monday, commissioners approved a plan by Ruby Mountain Inc. to seek federal money to study geothermal possibilities at Fort Bliss. The post lies atop a geothermal zone that extends from Truth or Consequences, through El Paso County and on to Sierra Blanca.

Though initial studies aren’t all that encouraging, it’s worth pursuing. One reason is that Fort Bliss’ intention is to be energy self-sufficient. Geothermal-generated electricity could be part of the solution. And even though Ruby Mountain has found water temperatures of 180-190 degrees at less than 2,300 feet, the company is seeking federal money to study the use of solar reflectors to increase the water’s heat that would be better for electricity generation.

El Paso is perfectly situated to be a leader in the research, development and implementation of alternative and renewable energy. While that is particularly so with solar energy, there’s also wind power to be considered. And since we’re sitting on top of a huge geothermal source, the county is correct to back research into that possibility.