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Geothermal Plants Could Boost Imperial Valley Economy

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Aired 2/7/11

Tapping into geothermal energy sources could bring jobs to Imperial County.

A study by the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) shows an abundance of geothermal resources in the Imperial Valley.

The largest concentration of geothermal plants is located north of San Francisco in the Geysers Geothermal Resource Area in Napa and Sonoma Counties.
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Above: The largest concentration of geothermal plants is located north of San Francisco in the Geysers Geothermal Resource Area in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

Geothermal energy from the Imperial Valley could create jobs and provide another source of renewable energy, according to Carl Stills, the district's assistant energy manager for geothermal development.

Stills said a study used thermal satellite imaging and other tools to find locations that would be suitable for geothermal development.

He said developing several geothermal plants will provide jobs in the economically-depressed Imperial Valley.

"The Imperial Valley presently has the highest unemployment rate in the nation sitting at about 28 percent unemployment," said Stills. "The development of these green energy jobs could create somewhere between 5,000-6,000 jobs, sustainable for a long period of time."

Stills said one of the richest areas for geothermal energy in the Imperial Valley is near the Salton Sea.

The largest geothermal plant in the world is The Geysers, north of San Francisco. Power from the plant provides electricity to five northern California counties.

Stills said Imperial Valley's geothermal potential is estimated to be about 2,500 megawatts.

Like wind and solar power generation, carbon-free geothermal does not burn fuel to manufacture steam to turn the turbines.

Stills said the IID has six geothermal energy projects planned.

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