chapter  6
Geothermal Energy
Pages 24

The Modoc Plateau contains the Medicine Lake Caldera and the historical lands of the Pit River Tribe. The Pit River Tribe has a long tradition that surrounds the Caldera, and in particular the waters found therein. The area has long been a place viewed by various Native American tribes as having particular healing properties and the waters of particular interest. In recent years however, it has become clear that the area surrounding Medicine Lake has more to off er than just the historical and cultural importance placed on it by the Pit River Tribe. A geological study performed by Stanford University faculty, and sponsored by Calpine Corporation (a geothermal energy development fi rm), found that “[Medicine Lake] is perhaps the most promising, currently undeveloped, electrical-grade geothermal resource in the contiguous United States” (Hulen et. al., 2000). It is a region that has suffi cient geothermal heat and water resources to provide substantial amounts of alternative energy. In fact, Calpine has submitted plans to develop two plants in the Caldera. Each would provide 49.9 megawatts of energy. Together that equals nearly 100 megawatts, or enough energy to power over 10,000 homes. Additionally, Calpine has stated that over the next forty-fi ve years, in which they plan to develop geothermal energy sites in the area, they expect to see as much as 1,000 megawatts of energy provided (Pit River Tribe, 2011). In this chapter the story will be told of how Calpine was thwarted in their development through federal regulation by the Pit River Tribe Coalition.