Forging ahead: Geothermal Community Gathers at GEA National Geothermal Summit to Map Road Ahead in California and Beyond
With industry leaders expressing concern about the future of the geothermal industry in the state, policy leaders reassured the industry that geothermal has to be part of the future energy mix, and noted the significant role they want geothermal to play particularly when they look at long term climate goals.
SACRAMENTO (August 9, 2012) – Geothermal energy has the potential to help meet California's achieve its ambitious climate change goals as a firm yet flexible option to fossil fuels, but needs to have its unique needs and qualities recognized in a more coordinated state policy process. That was the message coming out of the second annual GEA National Geothermal Summit held Wednesday in Sacramento, which brought together a group of 200 policy and industry leaders for a constructive dialogue on where geothermal is today and its future potential in meeting the needs of California, Nevada, and other western states for clean, reliable, renewable power. Policy leaders who joined the conversation included State Assembly member V. Manuel Pérez (D-Coachella); California State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima); Commissioner Carla Peterman, California Energy Commission; Karen Edson, Vice-President, Policy and Client Services, California ISO; and John DiStasio, General Manager & CEO, SMUD.
"We view this year as particularly important because the state is working across agencies to review its energy programs through the CEC Integrated Energy Resource Plan which can provide mid-course corrections to ensure policies can achieve the state's goals," remarked GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell.
Paul Thomsen, Director, Ormat Technologies, Inc. and GEA Board President noted that Ormat recently announced completion of the McGinness Hills project, the third power plant in a series spanning three counties that put 350 people to work in rural Nevada. He continued: "The fantastic attributes of geothermal are not being recognized today. We are absolutely the most cost effective resource that there is in California; we just have to get the formula right so that the PUC and the utilities recognize that. When you include integration costs, when you include the lack of value of penetration rates of intermittent resources, what sounds super cheap today is going to be to California's detriment tomorrow."
With industry leaders expressing concern about the future of the geothermal industry in the state, policy leaders reassured the industry that geothermal has to be part of the future energy mix, and noted the significant role they want geothermal to play particularly when they look at long term climate goals. They expressed a genuine commitment to working out the policies and programs necessary to make that possible.
JR Delarosa, Renewable Energy Advisor, Office of Governor Brown commented: "In terms of looking at the future, The Desert Renewable Energy Plan in the Mojave desert is going to identify key areas both for development as well as species habitat conservation. In the Imperial Valley there's going to be significant portions for geothermal so there is going to be permitting assurance there, once the DREP is completed. That's pretty exciting, and there's a significant amount of geothermal there."
"Transmission is typically the longest lead time item in the development process and that's why the ISO has worked so hard developing a new approach to transmission and its footprint, so that we can take the input assumptions from policy makers and incorporate those into what we plan for the system to provide. With those input assumptions we can build the plan to make those resources deliverable," said Karen Edson, Vice-President, Policy and Client Services, California ISO.
Dr. Jane C.S. Long, Co-Chair, California's Energy Future Committee, California Council on Science and Technology discussed the Council's recent report on California's energy future which underscored the importance of geothermal. The report looks at whether the state can achieve its 2050 climate goals, and concludes there are serious issues to address. The report's conclusion notes, "Perhaps the biggest choice the State needs to make is whether (or how much) to ensure it has baseload power generation. To the extent that we want baseload power, the question will be where it should come from. Geothermal energy will likely prove to be an excellent and acceptable choice…"
Halley Dickey is Director Geothermal Business Development Renewable Energy Systems for TAS Energy, which brought three geothermal projects online this year: "The GEA Summit was one of the first times we've had a constructive two-way dialogue with legislative positions and governing bodies that are key to the geothermal industry and its success in the west. Now that we've talked about being firm and flexible, we need to work together with regulators to really understand the importance of long term planning; that it's not just lower cost equals best fit."
During the Summit's morning session, California State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) noted the importance of diversity in the portfolio, and that California should take pride in its role as leader in geothermal: "I hope geothermal is front and center for many years to come."
State Assembly member V. Manuel Pérez (D-Coachella) referencing the enormous geothermal potential in Imperial County noted: "Why is it, that in my own backyard, in one of the most economically depressed parts of the state, the Hudson Ranch I is the first geothermal to go online there in 20 years?" He continued: "Continue fighting this good fight. It's a good cause."
The industry will continue the conversation when they head to Reno, Nev., for the GEA Geothermal Energy Expo and GRC Annual Meeting from Sept. 30-Oct. 3. For more information, visit http://www.geothermalenergy2012.com/.
About the Geothermal Energy Association:
The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is a trade association composed of U.S. companies who support the expanded use of geothermal energy and are developing geothermal resources worldwide for electrical power generation and direct-heat uses. GEA advocates for public policies that will promote the development and utilization of geothermal resources, provides a forum for the industry to discuss issues and problems, encourages research and development to improve geothermal technologies, presents industry views to governmental organizations, provides assistance for the export of geothermal goods and services, compiles statistical data about the geothermal industry, and conducts education and outreach projects. For more information, please visit http://www.geo-energy.org/. Check out GEA's YouTube Channel. Follow GEA on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook.