Salt River Project has signed an agreement with CalEnergy, LLC for the purchase of 50 megawatts (MW) of geothermal energy from a number of plants located in the Imperial Valley of southern California. CalEnergy, LLC and its affiliates, subsidiaries of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company and TransAlta Corporation, own and operate the geothermal facilities located near the Salton Sea.
The Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area is one of the world’s most prolific regions for the production of renewable energy. SRP’s purchase will begin with 18MW in 2016 and grow to the full 50 megawatts in 2019. The agreement will allow SRP to continue providing its customers with sustainable energy from these facilities until 2039. The geothermal power generated by the project will offset approximately 460 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year – the equivalent of taking about 40,000 cars off the road.
A geothermal plant produces electricity from naturally occurring geothermal fluid. Steam is formed when production wells tap into superheated water reservoirs thousands of feet beneath the Earth’s surface. Unlike other forms of renewable energy such as solar or wind, geothermal power plants are highly reliable as they produce energy continuously, irrespective of the time of the day or weather conditions.
Geothermal is one of the cleanest sources of baseload generation because, instead of burning fossil fuel to heat water into steam as seen in most conventional forms of generation, heat from the Earth is used to create steam that powers a turbine generator. Geothermal energy is considered renewable energy because no fuel is consumed and the energy is from naturally occurring sources.
SRP also has agreements to purchase geothermal energy from the Hudson Ranch facility in southern California which began operating in 2012, and the Cove Fort plant currently under construction in Utah.
Under SRP’s Sustainable Portfolio goals, SRP must meet 20 percent of its retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020. SRP’s sustainable portfolio is currently providing more than 10 percent of retail energy needs with sustainable resources such as solar, wind, landfill gas, geothermal, biomass, hydro and energy-efficiency measures.
SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix area, serving nearly 970,000 electric customers.