Bill helps meet growing demand for electric vehicle batteries
September 26, 2016

San Diego, CA… State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) announced that Senate Bill 1074 has been signed into law by the Governor.  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 our best interest to fund projects for mineral recovery from geothermal brines,” stated Senator Hueso.  “The signing of this bill has the potential of putting the Salton Sea at the center of the map for companies which highly rely on lithium as part of their electric battery production.  I am proud this project may help us reach our energy-efficiency and environmental goals and in turn create more jobs for our state.  I am grateful to the Governor for making this a priority. ” 

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.  

During the signage of this bill, the Governor stated, “Senate Bill 1074 directs $2.5 million of Federal Trust Funds for competitive grants in mineral recovery from geothermal brine, such as lithium recovery projects.  I am signing this bill because lithium recovery may provide California with a domestic source to help meet our growing demand for electric vehicle batteries.  Moreover as we continue to work towards a sustainable Salton Sea, finding markets for geothermal brine can contribute to the combined efforts that will be needed for a healthy Sea.”

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.