Geothermal Rising Letter Supporting AB 1161


April 26, 2021

The Honorable Chris Holden
Chair, Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy
Room 5132
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: Strong Support for AB 1161 (E. Garcia)

Dear Chairman Holden:

On behalf of Geothermal Rising, we write in strong support of AB 1161 (E. Garcia), an important measure that will accelerate the procurement and deployment of new zero carbon energy resources with an appropriate emphasis on projects that yield long-term employment and stimulate the local economy.

Geothermal Rising is a non-profit organization supporting communication of robust research, knowledge, and guidance in geothermal energy in the United States and around the globe. Founded in 1972, we are the largest direct-membership professional and trade association serving the geothermal industry, with over 1,300 members representing a broad and diverse demographic from across the geothermal community. Our members include individuals, corporations, universities, national laboratories, government, and other non-governmental organizations.

The mid-August 2020 unprecedented west-wide heat wave placed an enormous demand on the electric grid, prompting rotating power outages for tens of thousands of California residents in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the CAISO, PUC and CEC have called for the procurement of a diverse set of energy resources that meet peak demand, while ensuring California’s commitment to a reliable, clean, and affordable energy system is sustained and accelerated.

Geothermal energy is not subject to weather conditions and can be dispatched as flexible or baseload to complement intermittent renewable resources such as solar and wind energy. Geothermal power plants have lower lifecycle environmental impacts and smaller land footprints. Geothermal resources also reduce the need for natural gas-fired generation that not only contributes GHG emissions, but also produces air pollution in a region with the highest rate of asthma-related emergency room visits for children in California.

The Salton Sea KGRA has up to 3,000 MW of untapped geothermal potential. AB 1161 will accelerate the development of additional clean geothermal energy resources, while also enabling the extraction of lithium, one of the world’s most prized minerals and a crucial component used to manufacture the batteries that power electric vehicles. According to some studies, the region could annually generate up to eight times the amount of lithium produced globally in 2019. The in-state development of this crucial mineral will not only create thousands more union, middle class sustaining jobs but also position California to bring a lithium product to market free of the environmental degradation caused by the excessive water usage and open pit mining techniques used to produce virtually all of the lithium used in electric vehicle batteries today.

The addition of geothermal energy resources that add diversity, reliability and predictability to the grid while also enabling co-benefits such as lower GHG emissions, improved air quality, good paying jobs, and development of new manufacturing industries in high need communities is why we support AB 1161 and urge an “aye” vote when this bill comes to your committee.


Paul Thomsen, Geothermal Rising Policy Committee Chair

Will Pettitt, Geothermal Rising Executive Director