DOE interested in up to 250 MW of geothermal resources in California

The Federal Energy Management Program Office (FEMP) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will announce in the Aug. 31 Federal Register that it has released a Request for Information (RFI) on the availability of new construction geothermal electricity in the Salton Sea area to serve regional federal load.

The purpose of the RFI is to gather industry input on options available to the federal government for a potential aggregated power purchase of 100 MW–250 MW of new construction geothermal electricity generated in the Salton Sea area, within Riverside and Imperial counties, California, for delivery over a ten-year or twenty-year contract period to serve regional federal load.

Written comments and information on the RFI are requested on or before Sept. 29.

The regional federal load would be located in one or more Arizona counties – Pima, Pinal, Maricopa, Yuma and La Paz – and/or the California counties of Imperial, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles. 

Because FEMP is familiar with the solar and wind resources available in the area, this RFI is focused solely on new geothermal electricity. One means of facilitating the development of new renewable resources is through the use of long-term power purchase contracts, whereby a third party funds, develops, operates, maintains and owns a renewable energy project, and a federal agency (or other customer) commits to purchase the energy, capacity and/or renewable energy certificates (RECs) from the project owner. For the purposes of this RFI, new geothermal resources are defined as those which are not in service as of the date of this RFI.

Questions that interested parties need to answer include:

  • Describe local new geothermal electricity generation options in the Salton Sea area, which is within the Riverside and Imperial Counties of California, to serve from 100 MW–250 MW of federal load.
  • Describe the optimal delivery point(s) for the electricity and whether deliveries would be around the clock.
  • Describe the optimal contract term for any potential power purchase contract. Some federal agencies have longer term contracting authorities than others. For example, the Department of Defense has 30-year contracting authority, whereas civilian agencies are typically limited to a ten-year contract, or may pursue a ten-year contract with a unilateral ten-year option for the government to renew.
  • Identify any transmission, congestion, or infrastructure issues that could impact potential projects in the Salton Sea area.
  • For the purposes of this RFI, FEMP is interested in projects with an estimated price per kWh at or below the 2014 average retail price for electricity in California, calculated at 15.15 cents per kWh by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Describe what variables or considerations can impact the price and provide options for different types of pricing including: fixed rate, fixed rate with fixed escalation, and base rate with indexed inflation.
  • Specify whether RECs would be included in the sale of electricity and describe the optimal REC ownership arrangement.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.