Imperial, California - Last week, while County of Imperial representatives attended the California State Association of Counties’ (CSAC) 121st Annual Meeting in Monterey, CA, a small delegation hosted a roundtable discussion with other California counties’ officials to confer about the potential to develop or expand the untapped renewable energy resources of their communities.

“Imperial County is building a coalition of California counties to address underutilized renewable energy resources,” said Supervisor Ryan Kelley, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors.  “Geothermal and biomass energy are renewable base load power producers and need to be part of California's increased Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) target of 50% by the end of 2030.  Our county coalition will bring a balanced energy portfolio to the attention of regulators and lawmakers in Sacramento with the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“My hat goes off to Imperial County for putting together the meeting and providing a forum to discuss the importance of these industries to achieving the state’s RPS goals, while finding an efficient way to dispose of our forest and crop residue,” said Humboldt County District 1 Supervisor Rex Bohn.  “Biomass provides an avenue for agriculture and timber residue to be used to produce energy.  It is important to have a working group that will advocate for making these industries more competitive.”

"In my district, dead trees have become a serious hazard for one community and creating energy from biomass could be a big part of the solution. We need innovative thinking to implement all forms of renewable energy -- biomass and geothermal resources should be able to compete," said San Luis Obispo County District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson.

With the recent passage of SB350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, California will now need to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by December 30, 2030.  This legislation is expected to stimulate the development of additional renewable energy power plants.  Geothermal and biomass offer significant value to California, such as high paying jobs and a clean base load energy source.   To achieve its potential, federal and state policies need to support industry growth by promoting sustaining existing and developing new renewable energy resources to achieve clean energy goals.

According to the California Energy Commission, California has 25 Known Geothermal Resource Areas.  Seven of those identified areas are located in Imperial County.  The Salton Sea has been identified as one of the major geothermal electrical productions in the state with a likely field generation capacity of approximately 1700 MW.  Developing these resources could bring profound benefits to this and other regions, including providing a funding stream for future Salton Sea restoration efforts.

The County is determined to put forth a coordinated approach that will work to minimize the disparity of benefits and credits between renewable energy resources, while diversifying California’s portfolio of resources.  The goal of the meeting was to foster relationships with representatives from other counties, listen to the issues that they face in their respective counties related to renewable energy development and gauge the interest of other counties with geothermal and/or biomass resources in pursuing efforts to create a better future for these industries and their communities.  A total of thirteen counties were represented at the meeting. 

Follow-up contact has been made with the counties in attendance and others who were invited but were unable to attend.  The County will continue its efforts to develop a coalition of counties and bring others to the table to create strategies and goals for the future of renewable resources such as geothermal and biomass.  A meeting is planned for next month to discuss the coalition’s strategy.