From the daily archives: Wednesday, September 12, 2012

By Mario Conde

The County Board of Supervisors approved Ormat’s East Brawley Geothermal project at Tuesday’s public hearing meeting.

The proposed East Brawley Geothermal Project would construct a new 49.9 net megawatt binary power plant composed of six Ormat Energy Converters, an expanded geothermal well field beyond the six exploration wells, and pipelines to carry the geothermal brine to the power plant for 30 years.

Also to be constructed are pipelines to carry the cooled brine to injection wells, pipelines to distribute, noncondensible gas from production wells to the power plant area and injection wells, and electrical transmission line to interconnect to the substation at the North Brawley 1 Geothermal Power Plant, and water pipelines to bring water from the City of Brawley’s treatment plant upgrade, with supplemental water supplied by Imperial Irrigation District to the power plant for cooling water. The EBGDP would have a total water demand of approximately 5,500 acre-feet per year, which would be obtained for the IID and the City of Brawley’s wastewater treatment plant.

The Geothermal plant site is owned by Ormat Nevada Inc. and consist of one parcel of 33.7 acres.  The project proposes to construct a substation adjacent to the geothermal power plant that would convert power generated at the plant to the proposed line voltage of 92 kilovots. The converted electricity would be transferred via a 2-mile-long double-circuit.

At the June 13, 2012 hearing, the County Planning Commission approved, with a 8-0 vote, the conditions for approval.  Thereafter, the County received one timely appeal to the Planning Commission action from the California Unions for Reliable Energy who appealed of all approvals on the basis of land use jurisdiction and CEQA compliance. The California Unions for Reliable Energy presented evidence and arguments that said that the project was going to need more water supply than it was presented at the environmental impact report.

After all the evidence was presented, the County Board of Supervisors decided to upheld the decision of the planning commission and voted in favor to approve the project 5-0.




By Mario Conde

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors will support the Imperial County Desert Museum in getting the funding and support they need to keep cultural artifacts.

The item was requested by Supervisor Jack Terrazas who introduced Neal Hitch, Executive Director of the Imperial Desert Museum. The main work of the museum over the last two years, Hitch said, has been the recuration of the Imperial Valley College Archaeology Collection, which is being completed under the Memorandum of Agreement with Imperial Valley College.

During this time, the museum has implemented a conservation lab, has brought on curation staff and developed a thriving volunteer curation program. Currently, there is no federally approved curation facility that would fill that need, and the museum has worked with BLM El Centro in the hope that artifacts from the Imperial Valley will stay in the Valley and will benefit locals.

Hitch explained that in the beginning of 2011, the mechanism for funding the museum was assumed to be from the mitigation funds of clean energy projects. A few energy projects have committed to long-term funding and strategic planning in the spring of 2011 determined that the museum would require an additional $2.5 million dollar endowment to sustain long-term operations. The mitigation for the Tenaska Solar project included $200,000, which would have been used to begin this operating endowment and it was planned that additional mitigations funds would follow.

“These projects have now moved to private land and the museum was not fully funded through energy mitigation.” Hitch said.

He also mentioned that the museum has not received approval from the state office of BLM to curate BLM artifacts. After reviewing the museum, BLM determined that the museum does not meet the minimal federal standards as they have no permanent staff, no guaranteed source of revenue and no record of performance. This means that currently, all cultural artifacts collected during the construction of renewable energy projects are being removed from the county, along with curation funding and curation jobs associated with the ongoing project in the Imperial County.

The Board agreed that this was an important issue to support and directed County Council Michael Roode to draft a resolution for next meeting their support to the museum and will work with the BLM and have them support the museum.


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