Monday, December 18, 2017

USA, California: Feds Help Geothermal Energy Company Export to East Africa

Helping Sonoma County companies export (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa-based Thermochem president Paul von Hirtz, center, works with engineering manager Mark Broads, right, and technician Michael Malm on a steam purity analyzer destined for an Indonesian plant. Thermochem supplies testing gear and services to geothermal companies in more than 20 countries.  (photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)
When Santa Rosa’s Thermochem had trouble obtaining a key financial guarantee to pay for equipment destined for Kenya a year ago, the geothermal testing company turned for help to officials with the U.S. Commerce Department.

“We already had spent a lot of money,” Thermochem President Paul von Hirtz (also a GRC Member) recalled of the $360,000 contract.

The company had agreed to ship equipment that measures the capacity of geothermal wells to generate electricity, similar to what occurs in Sonoma County at The Geysers steam fields. The buyer was Kenya’s main electrical generator, but the overseas company didn’t provide a letter of credit and for a time its staff stopped responding to requests about the delay.

Thermochem contacted officials at the San Rafael office of the U.S. Commercial Service, a trade promotion arm of the Commerce Department. Those officials worked with counterparts at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi to contact the company in Kenya and to help procure the letter of credit this spring.