IMPERIAL – Senator Ben Hueso hosted a tour of the Salton Sea and Geothermal Energy Plant Monday morning accompanied by special guest David Hochschild, Commissioner of the California Energy Commission, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, members of the Office of Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and IID President Stephen Benson.
“It is an honor to have Commissioner David Hochschild in my district to visit the Salton Sea and the Geothermal Energy plant,” said Hueso. “It is my goal for all of those involved to gain an understanding on what we need to do to restore the Salton Sea and learn more about our renewable sources of energy.”
Prior to the tour, Hueso held a reception at the Imperial Irrigation headquarters water control conference room. Hueso and members of the IID briefed Hochschild, of existing concerns, challenges and potential hazards the county is currently facing in their efforts to save the Salton Sea and tap the potential wealth existing through the geothermal energy field.
“The strategy is to get people to understand our challenges and be willing to support our solutions,” said Hueso. “It takes years to build a movement and our movement is to fix the Salton Sea.”
“We put together a very interesting tour where you will get to see some of the important eco systems. You will get to see some of the power plants that are not only critical to helping us reduce global warming but generate energy,” said Hueso.
Geothermal is the largest job creator of all power sources and is the highest employer for renewable energy in the state of California.
“We have a wealth of potential; we just need to connect the dots. We have a state that is moving in a million directions in many different ways. This is a common goal that we have identified here in the valley, not only creating power, restoring the environment, generating jobs, producing food, all combined is just a perfect recipe to put our state on a better path of prosperity and good fortune,” said Hueso.
The tour began at the Unit 3 generating station in El Centro that was recently repowered as well as the future site of the IID’s battery storage project and the Sol Orchard solar project across the street.
Next they toured the Red hill Marina Park where they viewed the vast receding shoreline from the marina followed by a stop at the Mud Pots next to the geothermal plant.
Finally they walked the John L. Featherstone geothermal plant and the Synthetic Genomics algae plant.
“We want you to see some of the work that is being done to further energy extraction. We are looking at algae as a source of power, but also the source of pharmaceutical products. We want to share the potential of extracting lithium, manganese, and zinc from the sea. We have three quarters of all the lithium currently used in the world deposited deep below the sea. The potential to extract that here California, a leader in lithium production, and we wouldn’t have to dig holes or mine. This is stuff that comes out through the geothermal process,” explained Hueso.
“We need to work together and find areas of common interest and hope that you, Mr. Hochschild, remember us, and find a place for us in your work so we can benefit from your decisions,” stated Hueso.
Hochschild told the group assembled he is interested in partnering with Imperial County, in addition to learning more and helping in the restoration of the Salton Sea.