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Hudson Ranch geothermal power facility underway in Imperial Valley

May 20, 2010 | 10:48 am

It’s about to get steamy in the Imperial Valley.

The Hudson Ranch I geothermal power facility is on track to start operations in 2012, after landing a major investor and starting construction.

EnergySource, a renewable-energy development company based in San Diego, launched the 49.9-megawatt project in the Salton Sea area on Monday.

On Thursday, geothermal investment and development firm GeoGlobal Energy said it was investing $90 million and becoming a 20% investor in EnergySource.

Hudson Ranch will be the first U.S. project for GeoGlobal, which has offices in Washington; Santa Rosa, Calif.; Chile and Germany.

The $350-million facility will take 21 months to build and is expected to create 200 construction jobs and, later, 35 full-time plant operations employees, EnergySource said.

The electricity produced from the plant will be sold under a 30-year agreement to Salt River Project, a municipal utility serving customers in Phoenix.

Geothermal power generation usually relies on steam created by cool water meeting the molten magma rock below the Earth’s crust to drive electric generators.

In 15 states across the country, 188 new projects underway could produce nearly 7.9 gigawatts of electricity and represent $35 billion in capital investment when completed, according to an April report from the Geothermal Energy Assn.

Catalyst Renewables and Hannon Armstrong, the majority owners of EnergySource, have been developing the Hudson Ranch project since 2006.

Debt financing was raised by a group of eight banks, including ING Capital and Union Bank.

The Imperial Valley facility will also be able to take advantage of federal tax incentives – more than $100 million worth -- through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, EnergySource said.

-- Tiffany Hsu