BRAWLEY — The Imperial Irrigation District (IID) held a town hall meeting in Brawley Wednesday evening at the Brawley Chamber of Commerce. Three meetings were scheduled for El Centro, Brawley, and Westmorland, the closest to Division 1 ratepayers, on October 3, 4, and 5.
Billed as a Division 1 meeting, with Division 1 IID Director Juanita Salas, the town hall was held so IID customers could learn about IID programs and voice their concerns. Attendance was low, but the information given out could be of interest to any IID customer.
IID General Manager Kevin Kelley spoke about the Salton Sea and its potential for geothermal resources.
“In 2015, the IID board at the time decided that the Salton Sea would be the intersection of our water and energy emissions,” said Kelley. “The Salton Sea is already implicated in the water transfers. The Salton Sea is also the home of this untapped and unrivaled geothermal resource. We think that in 2017, possibly in 2018, this will culminate into something enduring for the people of the region.”
“On the water side, IID filed a petition in 2014 before the State Water Resources Control Board,” said Kelley. “We expect that in November of this year the State Water Board will act on the stipulated water order filed by IID, Imperial County, and the San Diego Water Authority for a ten-year plan that commits the state of California to certain milestones as the lakebed is exposed. If the state doesn’t perform, we believe it puts us in a better position to attach to the water transfers this unmet obligation to the Salton Sea.”
“On the energy side, we are very close to a 500 watt geothermal resource,” said Kelley. “We finally met with the governor and found that he wasn’t as informed of our issues as we expected he would be. The good news is that the Salton Sea as an issue of statewide importance has been elevated largely due to our efforts. Because the mitigation water is going away this year, it’s not something that can be put off. So, something will happen. On the water side, we think it’s a positive thing. On the energy side, it is still a battle.”
“IID is blessed with certain assets,” continued Kelley. “[We have a] water resource, with the most senior and largest water entitlement on the entire Colorado River system. On the energy side, I think that the energy assets at one time were valued at something like $1.5 billion. That geothermal resource I spoke about earlier, 70 percent of it, up to 2,000 megawatts, is located on IID owned land. Most of it is under water today. It just happens to correspond with the part of the Salton Sea that will be the first to be exposed in that southeastern part of the lake. The development of geothermal generation ought to be part of the toolbox, not to provide just a revenue stream for restoration, but to make the place better.”
IID staff went on to describe different energy efficiency programs and income assistance programs that are in place to help residential and commercial customers. Explanations of the different programs are available on the IID website at iid.com.