Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Sonoma Clean Power Leads Plan to Develop New Geothermal Power in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties

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The following is a press release published by Pletcher Consultants


The City of Ukiah’s hydroelectric plant [Picture provided by Suzanne Pletcher]

Sonoma Clean Power’s board of directors gave the go-ahead in October for the utility and its partners to take the next step in development of significant new geothermal power supply in its service territories of Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. 

The Geothermal Opportunity Zone, or GeoZone for short, is part of the public power provider’s ongoing effort to develop enough local clean energy to free its customers of reliance on fossil fuels to meet demand for power when solar energy isn’t available on the grid.  Last year, both Mendocino and Sonoma Counties’ boards of supervisors joined Sonoma Clean Power in establishing the GeoZone partnership.

“We are already at more than 90% carbon-free electricity,” said Mendocino County Supervisor Dan Gjerde, who represents the county on the Sonoma Clean Power board of directors.  “GeoZone will get Sonoma Clean Power customers over the finish line to 100% carbon-free electricity, day and night, every day of the year.”  

Now the agency will craft a memorandum of understanding with three companies for cooperative agreements to develop new geothermal power using technologies that conserve water.  It’s the next step in what Sonoma Clean Power CEO Geof Syphers expects will be a 10-year development process that leans heavily on stakeholder involvement and feedback.  

Sonoma Clean Power will manage complementary roles and responsibilities of the partners, go after grant funding, consider potential development sites, and begin discussions with regulators.  It hopes to attract state and federal funding for the project. 

The Geysers geothermal power plant already generates about 700 megawatts of electricity. The GeoZone partnership aims to develop an additional 500 megawatts in the region. The California Public Utilities Commission has called for one gigawatt of added geothermal power by 2026.

New technologies considered by the GeoZone partners allow for facilities that reduce land use and operate in a wider area of geologic conditions far beyond the existing Geysers field. 

“There is so much potential here and it is such a big undertaking that we will be talking about this a lot as we move forward,” Syphers said.

Mendocino County Supervisor Glen McGourty acknowledged that his Potter Valley district, which is part of the GeoZone, includes some of the existing Geysers geologic formation and may be uniquely suited to provide geothermal power and expand the portfolio of locally grown renewable energy.

“We are always excited to see renewable resources utilized in power production, and it really fits Mendocino County well because of our attitudes in support of renewable energy,” he said.  

Along with other public power agencies in the state, Sonoma Clean Power expects to be a large buyer of the geothermal energy produced by the partnership.  

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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