Geothermal bill closer to becoming law

Imperial, California - Proposed legislation that would diversify California's energy portfolio by requiring energy retail sellers to procure 500 megawatts of electricity from baseload geothermal power plants in the next 10 years continues to move through the state Legislature.

Senate Bill 1139 advanced from the Assembly Appropriations Committee today and is expected to go before the full Assembly for a floor vote sometime before the Legislature's end-of-the-month voting deadline.

Authored by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and co-authored by Assemblyman V. Manuel PĂ©rez (D-Coachella), this legislation is considered critical by the Imperial Irrigation District to advance its Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative. A collaborative effort between IID and Imperial County, the initiative calls for the development of new geothermal energy projects at the Salton Sea as a platform - and funding mechanism - for the sea's ultimate restoration.

"The initiative can help assure the future of the Salton Sea, protect public health, conserve vital species habitat and create stability for meeting California's water supply and energy needs," said Jim Hanks, President of the IID Board of Directors.

The Known Geothermal Resource Area in and around the Salton Sea, the majority of which is located on IID-owned lands, is estimated to contain up to 2,000 megawatts of untapped geothermal energy.

SB 1139 has the potential to generate up to $38 million per year in local revenue, hundreds of high-paying jobs and investments toward meaningful economic development and creates the kind of development needed in California to produce jobs, protect against fuel price increases and reduce greenhouse gas and fossil fuel emissions. At the local level, the development of geothermal resources is expected to create jobs for the Coachella and Imperial Valley communities as well as generate potential financing for Salton Sea restoration.

SB 1139 was approved by the full Senate in May. In June, both the Assembly's Utilities and Commerce Committee and the Natural Resources Committee also approved the legislation in separate hearings.

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