b'C HAPTER T WENT Y - T WOJ U M P I N G T H E F E N C EIt was an opportunity to step outside the Site boundaries.Jay KunzeW ith the MTR out available in twenty vacant NRT S Kunze learned of the geothermal watersbuildings. Diversification was highly that flowed from artesian wells in thed e s i rab l e . 2 Raft River Valley in Idaho, about 150 of business after 1970, the physicists who miles southwest of Idaho Falls and nearha the Utah border. A number of years pre-dn t left Idaho were available for otherwork. Fortunately, this surplus of NRTSviou lsy, some farmers had drilled irriga-talent dovetailed with national events that tion wells and to their surprise broughto ffered new opportunities. In 1971 not up boiling water. The remote valley hadlong after an electrical brownout in the a population of a few hundred souls andeastern states, President Richard Nixon received its electricity from thewarned Congress that the country should Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) not take its energy supply for granted. He through the Raft River Rural Electricalsuggested that a new government depart- Cooperative. The co-op manager, Edwinment unify the countrys energy develop- S c hlend re , inspired by the national dis-ment programs. But the price of energ y cussion about potential energy shortages,was sufficiently low that Congress did wondered if the hot water below the val-little at the time. 1 ley might produce electricity at a pricecompetitive with that of the BPA. HeHohired a geologist to investigate thewe v er , the NRTS and the A E C sother national laboratory facilities resource and applied for a water rightbegan to expand their research to non- from the Idaho Department of Wat e r nuclear energy sources. East Idaho Resources (IDWR). Several neighboringbusiness leaders were exploring every INEEL 77-9183 landowners prepared to protest the appli-avenue they could to diversify and Well drilling at Raft River. cation because the water table in the val-build new programs at the NRTS, so ley had been declining over the yearsthis was a welcome development. The and they feared new wells would worsen employment numbers at the Site were The IDO contractor, Aerojet Nuclear, the situation. 4about 5,600, having fallen from a peak was wide open to new possibilities. Itemployment of 6,145 in mid-1965. created an office to pursue research Kunze and his boss, Dr. RobertThe Eastern Idaho Nuclear Industrial work in alternative energy sources such Brugger, drove down the highway oneCouncil published a brochure entitled as solar, geothermal, wind, and tidal day in 1972 toward Malta, Idaho, toPotentially Available Facilitie, whichs energy. Physicist Jay Kunze headed the visit the cooperative. The Raft River isidentified 223,000 square feet of space office and began looking around. 3 a north-flowing tributary to the Snake212'