CE Obsidian Energy is proposing to build a geothermal power project near the southern end of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, within the known geothermal resource area of the Salton Sea. The project site is an 80-acre portion of a 160-acre parcel owned by the applicant in an unincorporated area of Imperial County, approximately six miles north of Calipatria, California.Calipatria, California – August 7, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] If it is approved and built, the Salton Sea Geothermal Unit 6 Power Project will be the largest geothermal power plant in the United States. The steam-powered electric generating facility is designed to produce 185 megawatts, enough on average to power approximately 185,000 California homes. The facility would include a geothermal resource production facility, power generation facility with a high-efficiency condensing-steam turbine, production wells and pads, aboveground brine pipelines, and a brine waste solids handling system. More than 85 percent of the plant’s output is contracted to the Imperial Irrigation District for 20 years following the completion of the project. The staff of the California Energy Commission released the first part of its final staff assessment for the proposed geothermal power project. This report contains the staff’s analysis and recommended conditions of certification for the power plant in all areas except air quality and alternatives. It finds that in those areas analyzed so far, environmental impacts can be mitigated and the project could comply with all laws, ordinances, regulations and standards. The air quality and alternatives sections of the report will be published at a later date, with the California Energy Commission staff’s final recommendations, once the staff receives all of the necessary information. The report does not represent a decision or proposed decision on the project. Rather, it is a representation of the staff’s independent analysis of the project’s potential impacts on public health and safety, the transmission system and the environment, excluding air quality. The California Energy Commission evaluates all aspects of geothermal projects. The Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources issues permits for the geothermal production and injection wells. Well pads and brine pipelines would be permitted by Imperial County. The Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources and Imperial County both intend to use the decision of the California Energy Commission as the environmental document for their permitting processes. The California Energy Commission staff will hold a workshop later this month to take comments on the first part of the final staff assessment. The Commission will send out a public notice when the workshop date and time are set. Written comments on the report will be accepted through August 29, 2003. The California Energy Commission regards public input as an important part of the power plant licensing process. The commission is eager to receive feedback on the proposed Salton Sea Unit 6 Geothermal Power Project.