Geothermal Bill moves forward in CA Senate


Salton Sea red rocks

IMPERIAL COUNTY – The Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, on Monday, approved SB 1139, a bill that would diversify the state’s energy portfolio by requiring energy retail sellers to procure 500 megawatts of electricity from base load geothermal power plants by 2024.

Authored by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez (D-Coachella), the bill was approved on a vote of 8-5 and now heads to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee for a hearing on Thursday. It was approved by the Senate in May.

Imperial Irrigation District has endorsed the bill, which it views 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.

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.

IID Board Vice President Stephen Benson said the district is pleased with the efforts of Senator Hueso and Assemblyman Pérez in moving this legislation forward. The support the legislation has received is critical to IID’s Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative.

“Working together, the initiative can help assure the future of the Salton Sea, protect public health, conserve vital species habitat and create stability for meeting California’s water supply and energy needs,” Director Benson said.

SB 1139 has the potential to generate up to $38 million per year in local revenue, hundreds of high-paying jobs and investments toward meaningful economic development, said Senator Hueso. “This bill creates the kind of smart development needed in California to produce jobs, protect against fuel price increases and reduce greenhouse gas and fossil fuel emissions.”

Californians are still learning about the benefits of geothermal – its ability to provide base load power with nominal greenhouse gas emissions “makes it a great choice for filling the gap created by the closure of San Onofre, while enabling the state to stay on track with our emissions reductions goals,” said Assemblyman Pérez. “At the local level, the development of geothermal resources will create jobs for our Coachella and Imperial Valley communities as well as potential financing for Salton Sea restoration.”