For Immediate Release: November 16, 2020
Agreement also includes upgrades to facility fire protection systems
SACRAMENTO – The California Energy Commission (CEC) today approved a $2.1 million settlement agreement with Geysers Power Company (GPC) to resolve alleged violations related to the fire protection systems discovered at six of its geothermal power plants in Sonoma and Lake counties. As part of the settlement agreement, the company is also making improvements to the facilities’ fire protection systems.
The Geysers are geothermal power plants and the first renewable energy facilities approved by the CEC. Since they began operating in 1982, these six plants have collectively generated 300 megawatts of clean, reliable, baseload electricity.
The CEC is the state agency responsible for licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or greater. Once licensed, a power plant under CEC jurisdiction must maintain compliance with all conditions established for it to operate.
During routine site visits to the Geysers facilities in February and March 2018, CEC staff identified issues with the fire protection systems of the power plants. The CEC and GPC, with input from outside experts, developed and implemented a plan to resolve the issues. None of these issues were related to any fire event. In addition to improvements at the six facilities under CEC’s jurisdiction, GPC also voluntarily made upgrades at seven additional plants.
“Ensuring the safety and reliability of California’s existing power plant fleet is foundational to the Energy Commission’s work,” said CEC Executive Director Drew Bohan. “We appreciate the Geysers Power Company’s rapid response to address these important issues and the company’s cooperation in reaching the settlement which saves state resources by avoiding further investigation and enforcement action.”
The improvements and the settlement resolve the alleged violations at the Geysers facilities. In accordance with state law, the settlement will be deposited in the state’s general fund.
About the CEC’s Role Siting Power Plants
Since 1975, the CEC has licensed (certified), or exempted from certification, 153 thermal power plants; of these, 106 were constructed. For projects it certifies, the CEC is the chief building official, providing construction oversight and enforcement of all California Building Code provisions. The CEC conducts periodic inspections and audits to ensure that safe and reliable power is available while protecting the environment, public health, and workers. The CEC works with thermal power plant owners to bring them into compliance with their licenses and takes enforcement action, as necessary.
About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is leading the state to a 100 percent clean energy future. It has seven core responsibilities: developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, increasing energy efficiency, investing in energy innovation, advancing state energy policy, certifying thermal power plants, and preparing for energy emergencies.