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Jobs Created And Economy Boosted By Energysource Geothermal Plant In Imperial Valley

EnergySource, an independent renewable energy generation company that develops utility scale geothermal power plants, today hosted a dedication ceremony in Imperial County to commemorate completion of the first stand-alone geothermal plant in the Salton Sea area in 20 years, Hudson Ranch I.

“The good news is we can look forward to this great team bringing even more base load renewable power on line in the years to come”

The plant was then renamed the John L. Featherstone Plant in honor of a technology pioneer and innovator in the Salton Sea geothermal resource. EnergySource also announced ground breaking for its second geothermal plant, Hudson Ranch II, with drilling commencing in the third quarter of 2012.

Vice Adm. Dennis V. McGinn, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) and keynote speaker, told the crowd of more than 300 about the importance of growth and innovations for clean energy. He commended EnergySource for its six-year quest to design, develop, finance and complete its first geothermal plant that will provide clean energy to thousands of homes. The new plant and subsequent plants will contribute to future jobs, economic growth and environmental health in the region.

"Hudson Ranch is a truly outstanding renewable energy project that will provide over half a century of clean, CO2-neutral base load power," McGinn said. "The Salton Sea geothermal field is among the world's largest and highest temperature resources because it lies directly inside an active plate tectonic boundary. In addition to generating thermal power, Salton Sea geothermal brines are well-known for their exceptionally high concentrations of minerals. These minerals include lithium, manganese and zinc, which are important to battery and energy storage technology, and are truly a national strategic asset."

McGinn said EnergySource's strategic partnership with a minerals extraction company should enable recovery of these valuable minerals in an operationally effective, economically viable and environmentally friendly way that also offers strong potential job growth in Imperial Valley.

"The good news is we can look forward to this great team bringing even more base load renewable power on line in the years to come," McGinn said.

The plant naming recognizes Featherstone, a pioneer in the geothermal industry who has worked on projects in the Salton Sea resource since the 1970s, the infancy of the geothermal business there. His long career includes experience with a number of geothermal energy related patents, including methods to recover minerals from Salton Sea geothermal brines and the scale control clarifier process that has been a key to high availability power plant operation at the Salton Sea field. Featherstone, a founder of EnergySource and a senior vice president for engineering and operations, has led the plant design and all plant and well field operations from initial startup to commercial operations.

After acknowledging many who contributed to bring the new plant from concept to full commercial operation, Dave Watson, president and CEO, EnergySource announced the new name of the plant.

"John Featherstone was here at the very inception of geothermal energy in the Salton Sea resource and has built his entire career here," said Watson. "His ideas and inventions can be found in every process improvement to make power generation more efficient, or even possible, in this very challenging resource. He is truly dedicated to the success of our new plant and the success of the entire geothermal industry."

Additional speakers at the event included Michael Picker, senior advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown for California renewable energy policy, Sen. Juan Vargas, and Assemblymember V. Manuel Perez, who all praised the project's successful development, calling it a model for Imperial Valley and the state of California. The officials also noted the jobs the plant has created and its boost to the economically challenged Imperial Valley region.

Local officials included Gary Wyatt, County of Imperial, and John Pierre Menvielle, Imperial Irrigation District. Both touched upon the positive economic impacts the plant has had in the Valley, which has among the highest unemployment rates in the United States.

More than 300 people attended the event, including executives and staff from Hannon Armstrong, Catalyst Geothermal, GeoGlobal Energy, and Mighty River Power, which share in ownership of EnergySource. Doug Heffernan, CEO of Mighty River Power, joined from his headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand. Executives also attended from Salt River Project, the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix area that is now receiving a significant amount of renewable energy from the plant; EnergySource's contractors, engineering firm AMEC, plant-builder Performance Mechanical Contractors and construction manager URS; and its equipment suppliers, including turbine supplier Fuji Electric, which recently agreed to make an investment in EnergySource's next project, second plant Hudson Ranch II.

The John L. Featherstone plant began commercial operations in early March and is generating geothermal energy at its designed 49.9 MW capacity. EnergySource began construction of the $400 million plant in May 2010 and created more than 200 jobs during construction. Now in operation, the plant provides 55 full-time jobs in Imperial County. Today the plant is selling all of its energy, capacity and environmental attributes to Salt River Project under a 30-year power purchase agreement.

The Featherstone plant and the second plant, Hudson Ranch II, will each generate enough power to serve 50,000 homes each in the Southwestern region. The construction of Hudson Ranch II is scheduled for 2013.

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