September 01, 2016

San Diego, CA… State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) announced today that Senate Bill 1074 has made its way to the Governor’s desk.  This bill helps existing geothermal plants operating in disadvantaged communities by funding innovative minerals extraction techniques at those facilities has made its way to the Governor’s desk.    

“It is in the state’s best interest to fund select projects for mineral extraction from geothermal brines,” stated Senator Hueso.  “This has the potential of putting the Salton Sea at the center of the map for big companies like Tesla which rely on lithium as part of their electric battery production.  More business means more jobs and this is great and exciting news for Imperial County.” 

Senate Bill 1074 specifically expands the eligible uses of monies in the Geothermal Resources Development Account (GRDA) to include projects to recover lithium, metals, agricultural products, and other beneficial minerals from highly mineralized geothermal brines at an existing geothermal facility that is in a disadvantaged community and provides local employment opportunities.  

The geothermal brine produced by the Salton Sea geothermal resources is highly mineralized and corrosive.  Extraction of these minerals from the brine is one of the most significant costs of the geothermal development in the Salton Sea.  The state has the potential to help commercialize domestic mineral mining from geothermal brine, which will produce lithium and manganese dioxide necessary for electric battery manufacturing, thereby transforming an economic cost into an economic benefit.

Under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA), the federal government awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to CEC to administer a variety of innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  At the close of the ARRA program, in 2013, there remained $13 million in unallocated ARRA funds available to CEC for energy-related projects.  In addition, CEC continues to receive repayments from loans made from ARRA monies—about $2.5 million per year.  This bill provides CEC the authority to continue to use the remaining ARRA funds for additional, innovative energy-efficiency projects that will help California achieve it energy and environmental goals.

Governor Brown has until Friday, September 30, 2016 to sign or veto this measure.