Geothermal Heating District
Geothermal Heating in Boise
Administered by the Boise Public Works Department, the largest direct use system in the United States supplies energy-efficient heat to over 86 buildings.
Currently, four independent heating districts operate geothermal systems within Boise. The Boise Public Works Department operates and collects fees for the system that serves the downtown core area and the Boise State University campus. The State of Idaho operates the system that heats the Idaho State Capitol and several other buildings within the Capitol Mall area. The Veterans Administration (VA) provides service to the VA campus, and the Boise Warm Springs Water District provides service to the residential properties in the vicinity of Warm Springs Avenue.
In the heat of Boise’s “cold water war,” Boise Water Works gained an edge on its competition, the Artesian Water and Land Improvement Company, by drilling for hot water in 1890 at the base of the foothills near the old penitentiary. Soonafter the hot water discovery, the two companies merged to form the Artesian Hot and Cold Water Company. The company built the 15,000 square foot Boise Natatorium hot spa in 1892. That same year, the homes of C.W. and H.B. Eastman were the first on Warm Springs Road to utilize geothermal heat. There was a flat rate of $2 a month for small homes and $3 for larger homes, while the rest of the city was paying $8 for coal heat. By 1958, the system served 244 customers in Boise.
In the early 1980’s, Boise City and the Veteran’s Administration constructed geothermal systems, as did the state of Idaho in the 1990’s. The city system, serving 86 buildings by 2015, is the largest direct-use geothermal heating system in the United States.
For information on residential usage in the Warm Springs Avenue area, contact the Boise Warm Springs Water District at 342-3162.