Imperial Valley Agencies Ease Way for Green Power

By Published On: May 15, 2009

Imperial Valley government agencies are streamlining permits, upgrading Imperial Irrigation District transmission lines, and supplying Colorado River water to cater to renewable energy projects “We’re poised to become the renewable energy provider to the region and other states,” said Andy Horne, Imperial County natural resources advisor, at the Imperial Valley Energy Conference in Brawley May 6-8. At the county level, the Planning and Development Services Department helps renewable energy project developers get started by pulling together all of the agencies involved in permitting--from federal to local-- to provide an overview of what’s required, said Jurg Heuberger, department director. Developers in the county’s existing renewable energy zones generally need only conditional use permits from the county, said Heuberger. Included in the renewable energy plans for the area are the following: -A transmission corridor in the valley designated by the Bureau of Land Management, as well as a programmatic environmental impact statement to ease the way for geothermal and wind projects, according to Tom Zale, associate field manager of the bureau’s El Centro office. A similar impact statement for solar energy projects is due soon, he said. -A standardized interconnection process put together by the Imperial Irrigation District under an open tariff, according to Jesse Montano, district interconnection services contract manager. -A transmission system upgrade by the district so it can wheel more green power out of the area. IID also plans to make water available for green energy projects, said Jim Hanks, district president. “Water needed to spur the growth of renewable energy in this valley will be made available by IID,” said Hanks. -Seeking to meet a district wide 33 percent renewable energy standard by 2020, Hanks said. To that end, by mid-June, IID is soliciting partnership proposals to develop a 50 MW geothermal power plant on land it controls in the Salton Sea area. It also is reviewing green energy project proposals submitted recently under a request for bids, according to Hanks. The district currently gets only 7-8 percent of its power from renewable energy projects, said Tom Brady, IID general manager. It has targeted the interim 20 percent level by 2017 before it hits the one-third mark in 2020. Brady said that reaching its green energy goal will add about 20 percent to the cost of electricity in the valley.

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