Karl Gawell

Another View: Expanding geothermal power will help diversity

Published: Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 - 12:00 am

It was a rare pleasure to read about representatives of the wind and biomass industry showing concern for some existing geothermal industry jobs (“ Geothermal bill will hurt consumers, set back renewable energy efforts,” Viewpoints, Aug. 15). We appreciate their concern.

While we support legislation before the California Legislature requiring more geothermal power to be acquired, we have made it clear that the Geothermal Energy Association supports existing geothermal power facilities in California and efforts to expand geothermal power production in the state.

To protect consumers in the state, encourage economic growth and reduce carbon emissions quickly, California should not only expand new production but also protect its existing base of renewable power. This should not become a zero sum game for any renewable technology.

We believe promoting a diverse portfolio will help the state achieve its renewable energy and climate emissions goals, and help achieve these results with higher reliability and lower overall cost than other alternatives. PUC procurement policies have been unbalanced – procuring 6,000 MW of wind, 6,000 MW of solar and 100 MW of geothermal in the past decade. Procurement decisions have not fairly considered integration costs and other important values to the system, and the resulting emphasis on intermittent generation sources is exacerbating the problem. Reliability and other grid problems are already causing rates to rise. There is a growing mismatch between supply and demand. Recently, the ISO has had to curtail renewable projects – meaning paying them not to produce – and this looks like it could become more common in the future.

As California expands renewable power production, the best way to ensure consumers have the lowest energy bills will be to ensure that all costs and benefits of different energy sources are included in the analysis. Mounting evidence from independent sources such as E3, CEC, ZGlobal, CAISO and others show that a diverse portfolio is important and that more geothermal power will be necessary for a cost-effective future power system.


Karl Gawell is executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association.

Read more articles by Karl Gawell



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