Industrial, Regulation, Sourcing Renewables  -  March 21, 2016

California geothermal plant gains preliminary approval

The Imperial Irrigation District’s board of directors voted last week to approve a 1,900-acre lease agreement with Controlled Thermal Resources, an Australian company proposing to construct a 250 MW geothermal plant along the Salton Sea’s southern shore, near Calipatria, Calif. The power could be used to help the state meet its ambitious renewable portfolio standard target of 50% by 2030, and utilities could be interested in purchasing the power if the economics work out.

The Desert Sun reports:

In the past, developers haven’t built Salton Sea geothermal plants larger than 49.9 megawatts, because doing so would require them to get approval from the California Energy Commission, in addition to Imperial County. But Colwell [Controlled Thermal Resources’ CEO] believes his company can bring down costs through economies of scale. By building a plant at 250 megawatts, he said, it can offer electricity at a price that’s attractive to utilities or other potential buyers.

The company still needs to sign power purchase agreements with electricity buyers and organize financing. Controlled Thermal plans to begin drilling test wells and exploring the site now. The Energy Commission approval process could take 18 months, and plant construction could start by 2020. 

The Imperial Valley is one of California's largest agricultural centers.

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