Salt River Project has agreed to purchase an additional amount of renewable geothermal energy from a number of plants located in the Imperial Valley of southern California. SRP has amended its agreement with CalEnergy, LLC to add an additional 37 megawatts to a previous contracted agreement of 50 megawatts for a combined capacity of 87 megawatts. One megawatt is about enough energy to power approximately 250 homes in the Phoenix area.
The geothermal facilities are located in Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area – one of the world’s most prolific regions for the production of renewable energy. SRP’s purchase will begin with 18 megawatts in 2016 and grow to the full 87 megawatts in 2020. The agreement will allow SRP to continue providing its customers with sustainable energy from these facilities until 2039.
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 estimates that the geothermal power generated by the project will offset approximately 800 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year – the equivalent of taking about 70,000 cars off the road.
Under SRP’s Sustainable Portfolio goals, SRP must meet 20 percent of its retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.
SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix area, serving nearly 990,000 electric customers.