BUTTE — An old mine yard in Butte could possibly be chosen to be repurposed to produce renewable energy. The U.S. Department of Energy has money for that investment.
“I’m confident that Butte meets the metrics, I think that it takes more than just Butte, it will take the state and other individuals to get involved to say, ‘this is the right place,’” said Montana Tech Environmental Engineering Professor Robin Bullock.
Ultimately the Dept. of Energy will decide the right place in a nationwide search for renewable energy development on unused mining land. They will pick two to five locations for the $500 million to put solar, wind, or other renewable energy sources on that land.
The Orphan Boy mine off the campus of Montana Tech has geothermal capabilities that organizers believe make this area favorable.
“Through groundwater, you can heat the water or you can heat the water or you can heat the fluid and to bring that up and actually heat buildings or to generate power,” said Bullock.
Montana will have plenty of competition from other states that have abandoned mining property such as West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.
“It can also provide for additional training opportunity, education opportunities for Highland as well as Montana Tech and hopefully increase jobs associated with it,” she said.
Proposals need to be submitted by 2023 to be reviewed by the energy department.
“It is an opportunity that we should take advantage of and try for and to be working toward something,” said Bullock.