Geothermal energy use may increase in California if new bill passes

May 2, 2014 0 By Erin Kilgore

A new bill could help to build a clean energy future in the Golden State.

California Bill - Geothermal EnergyRecently, a bill known as SB 1139 was approved by the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communication Committee, and this bill would require electric utilities that are publicly owned and retail sellers of energy to obtain 500 MW (megawatts) of electricity from base load geothermal energy plants by 2024.

California has ample geothermal resources that are underused.

SB 1139 was authored by Senator Ben Hueso and co-authored by Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez. According to Hueso, the “bill is directionally important. The clean electric system of the future has to have more baseload generation. We have abundant geothermal resources in this state that are underutilized.”

Hueso went on to say that utilities in California have placed a strong focus on wind and solar energy and have significantly increased their green portfolio when it comes to these two renewable energy resources. However, at the same time, while the state’s utilities have increased solar and wind power, they have not increased their use of geothermal energy.

Hueso believes that in terms of the state’s long-term electricity supply portfolio and efforts to move away from carbon production supply, they should be relying more on geothermal resources to accomplish a stable Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

Geothermal energy may be the key to California reaching its goals to lower emissions.

According to Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez, Geothermal has the ability to supply base load energy with virtually no greenhouse gas emissions and this could be what secures southern California’s requirements for power, “while keeping us on track to achieve our state’s emissions reductions goals.”

In addition to reducing emissions, developing these alternative resource could lead to the creation of thousands of jobs for Californians who reside in the Imperial Valley and Coachella communities, Pérez stated. Moreover, for Salton Sea restoration, he believes geothermal power could become a financing source. “Either we are serious about these goals or we aren’t.” The Assemblymember said.

Both Hueso and Pérez have made it very clear how serious they are about how necessary they believe geothermal energy is to California’s electric supply portfolio. Now that their bill, SB 1139, has been approved, its next step is to pass the Senate Appropriations Committee.