SACRAMENTO – Legislation authored by state Senator Ben Hueso and co-authored by Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez that calls for the three investor-owned utilities in California to procure 500 megawatts of new geothermal energy generation over the next 10 years cleared the Senate yesterday and will next be taken up by the Assembly.
Senate Bill 1139 was approved by a final vote of 21-11 in a marathon floor session that saw the upper chamber vote on 121 separate pieces of legislation.
The Imperial Irrigation District and the County Board of Supervisors have endorsed the bill and taken many trips to the capitol to lobby for its passage. The passage is viewed as critical to advancing its Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative and the development of new geothermal energy projects at the sea as a platform – and funding mechanism – for its ultimate restoration.
Since few believe the cash strapped state will not be able to uphold its fiduciary responsibility of paying for the restoration of the Salton Sea once the transfer of water through the QSA takes place and the sea shrinks to new levels, this promotion of geothermal plants around the sea will help finance those costs.
The Known Geothermal Resource Area in and around the Salton Sea, the majority of which is located on IID-owned lands, is estimated to contain up to 2,000 megawatts of untapped geothermal energy.
“Senator Hueso and Assemblyman Pérez have shown real leadership in bringing this issue forward and unlocking the vast renewable energy potential of the Salton Sea, particularly the extensive geothermal resources located there,” said IID board President James Hanks. “As the bill moves to the Assembly, the district stands ready to assist in any way possible.”