For Immediate Release: June 30, 2011
Media Contact: Sandy Louey - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Awards More Than $5 Million For Geothermal Projects

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission took another step towards helping to meet the state's 33 percent renewable goals by awarding $5,491,865 in grants for four geothermal projects. Funds for the projects come from the Commission's Geothermal Resources Development Account (GRDA) Program.

"Currently geothermal produces more than 6 percent of California in-state electricity production with the potential for more," said Energy Commission Vice Chair James Boyd. "These projects will further develop California's geothermal resources and help advance California's clean energy goals."

Layman Energy Associates, Inc. of San Luis Obispo will receive $2,377,364 to drill and test a new exploratory well to confirm the presence of a commercially productive, liquid-dominated hydrothermal resource near the southeast margin of The Geysers steam field in Lake County. Layman will provide match funds of $3,566,046.

Only the first phase of the proposed project, which involves administrative activities, design work, and other preparatory activities, is approved. The Commission will consider the second phase, which is the drilling and testing of the well, after the final California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) determinations are complete.

On Wednesday, the Energy Commission also awarded funding to the following projects:

  • Renovitas, LLC of Fair Oaks will receive $1,492,722 to conduct a two-phase project at Wilbur Hot Springs in Colusa County to determine if there is sufficient geothermal potential to support the development of a 50-megawatt power plant. Renovitas will provide $2,248,400 in match funds for the project.

    The first phase involves administrative activities, pre-drilling geology work, geophysical programs, and gathering subsurface information to better determine the resource potential and locations for drilling temperature gradient and exploratory wells. The second phase involves the drilling of three to four temperature gradient wells and two slim-hole exploratory wells, Commission staff will request approval for the second phase at a future business meeting after Renovitas has made reasonable progress in securing a CEQA permit from the appropriate lead regulatory agency.
  • Simbol, Inc. of Pleasanton was awarded a $949,545 grant to develop a pilot-scale potassium extraction process that would convert the recovered metal into a cost-competitive and marketable product from Salton Sea geothermal brines. The company will provide $1,393,508 in match funds.

    The commercial extraction of potassium will provide a value-added product that will increase the cash flow to geothermal operators and accelerate the development of California's geothermal resources. The Salton Sea geothermal field has the potential to become the largest potassium resource in the United States.
  • Imageair, Inc. of San Diego will receive $672,234 to create a satellite-based land survey to detect surface deformation at the sites of current and planned geothermal plants in the Imperial Valley. Imageair will provide $732,293 in match funding for the project.

    The detailed baseline database will use remote sensing data from satellites and apply advanced underground wave property radar techniques to help geothermal developers distinguish between tectonic and man-made causes of subsidence. The results will be used for resource assessment, exploration, and mitigation activities.

The GRDA program promotes the development of new or existing geothermal resources and technologies. Projects proposed for funding are awarded as grants or loans. The funds come from revenues paid to the United States government by geothermal developers for leases on federal land in California. For more information, visit

Created by the California Legislature in 1974, the California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The Energy Commission has five major responsibilities: forecasting future energy needs and keeping historical energy data; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building standards; developing energy technologies and supporting renewable energy; and planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies.

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