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City’s No. 1 Powerhouse Might Be Fossil Fuel-Free

Burbank’s electricity powerhouse on Lake Street near West Olive Avenue is essential to the city’s independence and prosperity.

The 1975 city of Burbank calendar has a story on geothermal energy development prospects, now mostly forgotten. Even the slightest change in the distribution of resources, such as electricity, can catalyze monumental shifts in residential patterns and population trajectories.

The Santa Monica Museum of Art let Hugh Pocock operate vertical boring machinery (until Aug. 28, 2004) for “Drilling a Well to the Source of Water” in his site-specific installation artwork.

Is it conceivable that Burbank’s No. 1 powerhouse might someday be retrofitted to utilize a totally carbon-free energy source? A fossil fuel-free baseload energy resource seems like it could be desirable for Burbank ratepayers!

Shallow geothermal wells use water heated at depth to produce turbine-driving steam. For Burbank, the water supply might be extracted from the near-constant flow of the city-bordering Los Angeles River, as well as “gray water” sourced from the city itself, all to be used as the city’s existing and updatable powerhouse.

However, even deeper drilling might foster the generation of electricity using superhot rock geothermal energy. The 2023 Geothermal Rising Conference held in October revealed that two research and development companies (Quaise Energy, founded 2018, and TEVERRA, LLC) revealed that, by 2026, stable geothermal wells could be economically excavated to depths of 6 miles and, thus, provide essentially unlimited and interminable heat supply.

The City Council really ought to reexamine the city’s history, don’t you think?

Richard B. Cathcart


First published in the December 16 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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