ByÂ Jim Madaffer
Chevron, eBay and Toyota are just three companies that have left California for Texas, taking hundreds of jobs with them. Headlines are chock-full of many other companies looking to theÂ Lone Star State.
But it doesnâ€™t have to be that way. Itâ€™s time for California to capitalize on its resources. And utilizing the plentiful geothermal energy in theÂ Imperial ValleyÂ might be a good place to start.
The high-tech and growing electric car company, Tesla, recently announced its plans to build a battery â€œGigafactoryâ€ that would employ about 6,500. Several states are being considered for the project: Arizona, Nevada,Â New Mexico,Texas and California.
Why shouldnâ€™t the Palo Alto-based company build a factory in its home state?
Thatâ€™s where state Sen. Ben Huesoâ€™sÂ Senate Bill 1139Â could be of help. The bill, which is scheduled to go before theÂ Senate Appropriations CommitteeÂ on Wednesday, would require retail sellers of electric power to procure 500 megawatts of electricity from geothermalÂ power plants.
Itâ€™s estimated that a 100-megawatt geothermal project can bring in more than 300 jobs. Itâ€™s also estimated that a project of that size could bring in $150 million in local property tax revenues, and $2 million to $2.5 million annually in lease payments to local governments and private landowners.
The numbers look pretty good for a state thatâ€™s recovering from years ofÂ budget deficitsÂ and has an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent. Itâ€™s also ideal for the Imperial Valley, which is struggling with a 22 percent unemployment rate.
SB 1139 would do more than boost Californiaâ€™s economy. The bill would help the state meet its goal of significantly reducing greenhouse emissions. California can capitalize on its resources, not just for the betterment of a fast-growing California-based company, but for its people too.