Another win for renewable energy in California


The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors approved a lease agreement with Controlled Thermal Resources today that will allow for the development of a new centralized geothermal power plant in the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area located in Southern California.

Once built, the new facility is expected to produce up to 250* megawatts of renewable energy per year and has the capacity to expand operations to 375 megawatts in future phases. On-ground drilling is expected to commence by the last quarter of 2016 with the power plant expected to be operational by 2020. The development schedule for this project will coincide with California’s renewable portfolio standard requirement that 50 percent of all energy procured by utilities must be derived from renewable resources by 2030.

Controlled Thermal Resource’s CEO, Rod Colwell praised the action saying the agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District signals a new era for geothermal energy production in the region. “Geothermal power has the capacity to provide baseload electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is fast becoming directly competitive with conventional fossil fuel plants,” Colwell said.

Under the agreement, Controlled Thermal Resources will lease approximately 1,880 acres of district-owned land for as many as 50 years, assuming specific development milestones are met. In return, the district will receive rent and generation royalties.

“We will be developing the world’s first technology to provide utility grade energy that is clean, safe and economically viable, with or without government incentives or subsidies,” Colwell said. “With the world’s focus now firmly set on renewable energy targets, projects like this one are imperative.”

According to reports from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2015, geothermal energy offers the highest baseload (24 /7) power supply capacity in the renewable resource sector. Geothermal energy is reported to produce power at 92 percent capacity compared to wind (38 percent capacity), solar (25 percent capacity), conventional coal (85 percent capacity) and advanced nuclear (90 percent capacity).

Imperial Irrigation District General Manager Kevin Kelley said the agreement falls in line with efforts made by the district to facilitate public-private partnerships that will drive renewable energy growth in the region, “The Salton Sea represents one of the most abundant and underutilized sources of renewable energy in the state, including one of the most prolific geothermal areas of the world.”

Imperial Irrigation District recently teamed up with Imperial County to launch the Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative, which calls for restoration and habitat creation as a means to avert a public health crisis while at the same time promoting development of renewable energy in the Salton Sea region.

* One megawatt is enough energy to power approximately 750 homes.