California Community Choice Aggregator Looks To Boost Geothermal Development

March 25, 2022

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
March 25, 2022

California community choice aggregator Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) recently issued a request for information (RFI) to select entities to enter a public-private partnership aimed at accelerating the development of incremental geothermal resources in a Geothermal Opportunity Zone spanning Sonoma and Mendocino counties, Calif.

SCP is ultimately looking to enable 500 megawatts (MW) of incremental local geothermal development while maintaining existing regional geothermal capacity.

SCP has an interest in entering into a partnership agreement with selected entities to collaborate on transmission planning, community engagement, regulatory advocacy, public education, and state and federal grants to enable development of additional geothermal capacity in the Geothermal Opportunity Zone.

SCP is also interested in opportunities that sustain the longevity and efficiency of existing resources.

SCP’s intent is to be the off-taker for as much as 150 MW of the capacity from resources developed through the partnership and will leverage its relationship with other load-serving entities to assist marketing all Geothermal Opportunity Zone output.

In the RFI, SCP said that it recognizes the opportunity for a large resurgence in geothermal resource development, particularly in California.

“An increasing penetration of intermittent renewables, ambitious environmental targets, and retirement of nuclear and natural gas plants are creating an attractive market for the reliability and capacity attributes of geothermal power,” it said.

“Meanwhile, technology transfer from the oil and gas sector, expanding research and development activities related to geothermal resource assessment and power generation technologies, and increased public and private investment provides the potential to greatly expand the application of geothermal power and reduce costs,” the CCA said.

SCP is looking to “reinvigorate local geothermal development through a focused initiative to address the barriers for geothermal resource development, such as by providing an off-taker and building community support for preferred projects.”

As part of this initiative, SCP is pursuing the following activities in parallel with the solicitation:

  • Directly engaging current geothermal operators, developers, and technology companies to survey the state of the industry and understand barriers to development;
  • Undertaking an enhanced assessment of the geothermal resource within the area of interest;
  • Briefing county staff and elected officials on the scope and objectives of the initiative; and
  • Discussing the capability of current transmission in the region with the California Independent System Operator

Responses to the RFI are due April 29, 2022, 5:00 p.m. PDT and the RFI is available here.

The American Public Power Association has initiated a new category of membership for community choice aggregation programs.

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