OLENE — Water temperatures at a geothermal test well near Olene have exceeded expectations.

Bill Honjas, president and CEO of Klamath Basin Geopower, the project developer, said water temperatures exceeded 250 degrees for a commercial-grade geothermal power plant. Because of the temperatures, which he said were verified independently, efforts are ongoing to widen the well to increase its capacity to produce power.

Honjas said company officials are also determining where the next production wells will be located, probably within a five-mile radius. He said the company plans to drill two or three more wells this year as part of an effort to provide enough geothermal resources to develop a 20-megawatt power production plant. Based on average estimates, each megawatt provides enough power for about 1,000 homes.

“It’s all because of the science,” he said about locating the geothermal source, noting the company did extensive seismic studies throughout the region between Henley and Swan Lake two years ago.

“This is a very complex and systematic scientific investigation, and that’s what it takes to get it right the first time. We found our target because of the sonar testing. Because of the seismic testing we have an accurate picture of the ground to an 8,000-foot depth over the entire Olene region. When drilling we know precisely where we are going.”

Honjas said Klamath Basin Geopower has invested $9 million over the past four years, and emphasized no government funds have been used. The company has leased 22,000 acres of private lands encompassing four projects between the Swan Lake and Henley area, including the 2,500-acre project being developed in the Olene region.

“We’ve had a significant economic impact,” Honjas said, noting landowners are receiving annual lease payments.

If the Olene project succeeds, he said, a series of 20-megawatt power plants are envisioned between Henley and Swan Lake.

He said well rigs are still at the Olene-area drilling sites because of the well-widening efforts. After that is completed, testing will continue and the equipment will be removed, he said. The site will be reclaimed and restored with only the well head and access road remaining.

“It’s very important to us to make this a showcase project for environmental friendliness,” Honjas said. “We’re very good to our lease holders.”