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50 Years of Development at The Geysers
The First Decade - 1960s

Here is a brief historical overview of the commercial development, legislation, and technical advances that occurred up at "The Geysers" geothermal field, decade by decade, over the last 50 years. This information was compiled by members of the Geysers Geothermal Association, celebrating the first 50 years of successful commercial development at The Geysers, from the 1960s through 2010!

Map of the Geysers Geothermal Field © Geysers Geothermal Association. 2010

Commercial Development at The Geysers from 1960-1969

With three steam wells already online by 1960, development will increase to more than 400 steam wells over the next five decades...

1960 PG&E starts up Unit 1 = 12 MW

1961 Thermal Power drills first well greater than 2,000 feet.

1963 PG&E Unit 2 goes into operation = 14 MW

1964 -1965 Number of wells totals 37, with depths reaching over 5,000 feet. Union Oil Company drills first well, "Ottoboni 1".

photo courtesy of Ted Wilmsen

1967 Union Oil, M&T Corp. (Signal Oil), and Geothermal Resources International (GRI) acquire geothermal leases and drill wells, some greater than 6,500 feet, with productive area tripling in size. Union and Magma form joint venture with Union as operator.

1967 PG&E Unit 3 goes online = 28 MW

1968 PG&E Unit 4 goes online = 28 MW

1968 Total of 54 wells drilled at The Geysers.

Two more oil companies, Occidental Petroleum and Shell Oil, become involved in leasing and claiming operations.

photo courtesy of Ted Wilmsen

Technical Advances and Legislation in the 1960s

1965 The Divison of Oil and Gas began to oversee the geothermal industry and the division's name in 1992 was expanded to DOGGR (Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources).

1967 California Geothermal Act was the first attempt at defining geothermal resources.

late 1960s - Surface discharge of geothermal fluid was prohibited by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. From 1968 onward, all steam condensate and produced water was injected back into the geothermal reservoir.

To view the period of Commercial Development of The Geysers in the 1970s, click here


Map of the Current Geysers Geothermal Field

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Geysers Geothermal Association Website (Updated April 20, 2011)
All rights reserved. © 2011 Dorothy Beebee