The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

State Legislature Hearing: Why Isn't California Using More Geothermal?

Geothermal potential was the subject of a joint committee hearing in California on April 3 led by State Senator Ben Hueso, D-40th Senate District, and Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, D-46th Assembly District. As the hearing began, Senator Hueso, who is Chair of the Senate Select Committee on California’s Energy Independents, and Assemblyman Pérez, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Renewable Energy Economy in rural California, each expressed their interest in understanding why the state is not using more of its untapped geothermal resources. Of particular interest for California lawmakers, industry, and consumers alike are the areas near the Salton Sea familiar to the geothermal industry for their immense potential for power development.

The first panel of witnesses included California Energy Commission Commissioner David Hochschild; Executive Director of Independent Energy Producers Association Jan Smutny-Jones; and Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association Karl Gawell, each discussing the values that geothermal brings as well as challenges to further development in the state. Gawell provided testimony on the potential for expanded geothermal energy production, referencing the “State of Geothermal Energy in California” status report recently published by the GEA. California is no stranger to the industry, with about 2,700 MW of nameplate capacity already installed. However, this figure represents only about half of the identified resources. “Geothermal power can be a key to achieving an expanded post 33% renewable power portfolio at the lowest total cost,” Gawell said.

In the second panel, Imperial Irrigation District’s General Manager, Kevin Kelley, discussed the plans for a major Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative that would address both environmental and renewable energy needs of the state, noting that time is of the essence to prevent further decline of the sea. The plan would develop over 1,000 MW of geothermal power and build important transmission links to connect the Valley with other parts of California. California Independent System Operator’s Vice President, Karen Edson, and Energy Division Director for California Public Utilities Division Edward Randolph, also were called upon to testify.

Several geothermal company representatives were present at the hearing and commented on the California market afterward. “Enel Green Power North America is supportive of legislation that furthers geothermal expansion in California,” said Page, Vice President at Enel Green Power North America.

“CalEnergy is eager to be a part of the California legislature’s renewed objective to recognize the unique values and attributes of geothermal generation within the renewable energy mix to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions along with an increase in the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard,” said Keller, Director of Development, Transmission & Land Assets for CalEnergy. “The extraordinary geothermal resource of the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area is well suited for such a build-out to help accomplish both of these goals. CalEnergy is prepared and stands ready to lead the efficient development of this extensive geothermal field.”

“We commend Senator Hueso and Assemblymember Pérez for their persistence in spurring geothermal development in California,” said Bethel, Public Relations Manager at Ormat. “With conversation focused heavily on integration costs and transmission alternatives, the CPUC’s announcement of a modified RPS Calculator illustrates that the initiative to promote proper valuation in the renewables sector continues to gain traction and we look forward to reviewing the proposal once released. With renewed focus on extending the RAM to include larger projects and an expanded area, as well as the potential of qualifying geothermal’s technology attributes separately in future procurement directives, the hearing was a big step in the right direction for geothermal growth in California.”

The Geothermal Resources Council was present and submitted a resolution, similar to one adopted by the GEA Board previously, that endorses the IID’s Salton Sea Restoration Initiative. Both Senator Hueso and Assemblyman Perez expressed their intent to continue pressing forward to resolve issues and questions raised at the hearing. A Webcast of the hearing and other materials are available on the State Senate site.

This article was originally published on the GEA's Geothermal Energy Weekly and was republished with permission.

Lead image: California via Shutterstock

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now



Multinational Bank Financing of Geothermal Exploration Up 11 Percent from 2012

Jennifer Delony Financing of geothermal energy exploration by multinational banks has increased 11 percent, up from 6 percent in 2012...

CEO Gilles: Challenge in Geothermal is to 'Level Playing Field' with Wind, Solar

Jennifer Delony The current challenge for the geothermal energy industry is what U.S. Geothermal CEO Dennis Gilles calls “leveling th...

Top 5 Reasons To Be Optimistic About Geothermal in the US

Jennifer Delony Joe Greco, Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) board chairman and Terra-Gen Power senior vice president, outlined the...

DOE Releases Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Hawaii

Jennifer Delony DOE released a final programmatic environmental impact statement for Hawaii to provide federal, state and county gove...


US Solar Hosts Sierra Club Solar Meeting

This past Monday, US Solar welcomed a new group to its solar training classroom – The S...

US Solar Invited to Speak at Intersolar North America

Intersolar, the largest solar conference and expo in North America is right around the ...

US Solar - Green Planet Festival Highlights Solar Energy and Solar Training This Weekend

US Solar Institute (USSI) is excited to announce that they are the educational sponsor ...

Yaskawa – Solectria Solar Provides Inverters for One of the Largest Professional Sport Stadium PV Systems in North America

Yaskawa - Solectria Solar, a leading U.S. PV inverter manufacturer, announced today tha...


Solar Decathlon 2015 Opens to the Public in California

Today, Oct. 8, the biennial Solar Decathlon opened up to the public at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, ...

ENER-G CHP technology selected for major London housing scheme

ENER-G has been selected to supply combined heat and power (CHP) technology for phase two of the Leopold Estate housi...


Necessity is the mother of innovation. Our planet is going through major changes in climate. This of course will affe...

Georgia Legislature Approves PPA’s, Florida Hoping to Follow

Ah, the sunny south, the land of peaches, oranges and solar potential. I’m talking about Georgia and Florida he...


Leslie is located in Washington DC at the Office of the Geothermal Energy Association and serves on the Renewable Energy World North America Conference and Expo committee.


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



GRC Fieldtrip - Long Valley Geology

Led by: Gene Suemnicht and Duncan Foley     &nb...

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Expo:   Register Now for the 2015 GRC ...

GeoPower & Heat Summit

The GeoPower & Heat Summit is the most commercial event in the geoth...


Geothermal Event - We've got an app for that!

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo has gone mobile! We...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal...

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program f...

GRC Annual Geothermal Photo Contest - View all the Entries

36th Annual Geothermal Photo Contest The Geothermal Resources


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now