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Geothermal Use Mandated


Last updated 9/10/2018 at 4:23pm

The in-State generation of power for California consumers from renewable sources currently stands at about 30% (~61 gigawatt-hours - GWH). This includes an approximate 6% contribution from all 43 geothermal sources with about 3GW of total capacity.

State Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-56) represents a district in Imperial County that includes the Salton Sea .

If Garcia gets his Assembly Bill 893 passed into law, the contribution from Salton Sea geothermal sources from its current level of 400 Megawatts (400MW) to about 2 gigawatts (2GW=2,000 MW), would nearly match the entire current statewide geothermal capacity of 3GW by the year 2030.

“Areas surrounding the Salton Sea are uniquely ripe for renewable energy development, geothermal being chief among them,” Garcia said.

“Despite the increased reliability of geothermal, these resources have been greatly neglected in energy conversations. I introduced AB 893 to make sure that this tremendous regional opportunity is no longer overlooked and can be integrated into California’s overall energy efforts. In addition to helping diversify our renewable energy portfolio, the inclusion of geothermal would unlock many economic as well as public health co-benefits for under served areas like ours.”

The geothermal field at the Salton Sea is one of the biggest in the world, and also has great energy potential.

Geothermal energy is a renewable resource, generated with no air or water pollution. Magma beneath the surface on or near the San Andreas Fault Zone heats overlying water (brine) to very high temperatures, and the brine is drawn up and into a power plant to heat up a closed system of fresh circulating water into steam, which in turn drives an electric turbine. The brine returns to its source for reuse. As an added bonus, within the brine is dissolved-suspended Lithium, which can be extracted and refined for use in modern batteries for vehicles and cell phones, to name just two of many applications.

The bill, if passed, would require each and every publicly owned electric utility in California to purchase new geothermal capacity, with companies incentivize to make the conversion with tax credits and tax breaks for doing so.

Half of the mandated total use would have to be reached in 2021, with the remaining half by 2030. This would, in turn, have positive and long-term economic impacts for residents, customers, and geothermal-utility workers in Riverside and Imperial Counties.

Garcia says benefits accrue to the region over time in the form of high-paying jobs, both during and following construction, and with contributions to property taxes. He adds that geothermal power plants employ six times more people than Solar and 18 more times than wind, while adding six times more to the local economy than both Solar and wind combined. “In Imperial County, this industry serves as the largest taxpayer.”

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