News

Final EIR certified for Bottle Rock Power extension at Cobb Mountain

Bottle Rock Power geothermal power plant at Cobb Mountain, California (source: Bottle Rock Power)
Alexander Richter 24 Dec 2010

The Lake County Planning Commission certified the final environmental impact report for the proposed expansion of the Cobb Mountain project by Bottle Rock Power in California.

Reported from California, “the Lake County Planning Commission certified the final environmental impact report for the proposed expansion of Bottle Rock Power LLC’s geothermal project on Cobb Mountain.

In a hearing with hours of testimony that was sometimes confusing, off topic and contentious, the commission found that the final EIR – which neighbors of the project faulted for myriad shortcomings and mistakes – was sufficient for the project.

The plant, operated during the 1980s by the California Department of Water Resources, was closed for many years until it was reopened in 2007 under the ownership of US Renewables Group and Carlyle/Riverstone Renewable Energy Infrastructure Fund I, as Lake County News has reported.

The commission, with District 2 Commissioner Bob Malley absent, heard five and a half hours’ worth of testimony – both from neighbors and Bottle Rock Power officials – before rendering the decision on the final EIR. It then heard another hour of comments on the project’s use permit, which is proposed for expansion.

Community Development Director Rick Coel explained that Bottle Rock Power is seeking to add up to 22 wells over the life of the project, although it’s more likely to add between six and nine.

That expansion also would includes the rezone of 60 acres to allow for two new 3.5-acre geothermal well pads, an access road and 1.3 miles of new pipeline to connect to the existing pipeline. The company also said it will build a new bridge as part of the expansion.

That meeting will delve more into Bottle Rock Power LLC’s request for a new use permit and proposed modifications to its current use permit, as well as its traffic and road maintenance plan.

While community members made clear their reservations over the project, local leaders communicated their support for the project to the commission.

On Thursday a memo to the commission from County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox urged them to approve it, noting, “It is imperative to the well-being of all residents of Lake County that our County government take decisive actions to facilitate the creation of new jobs and encourage private sector investments that will result in both short-term and long-term economic benefits.”

Cox said the geothermal industry has been one of the county’s “few consistently successful economic engines” over the past three decades, and has become a major contributor to the county’s tax base. Based on his work with the industry, he said he’s become a strong proponent.

Quoting the EIR, Cox said the plant’s cost for full buildout would be $80 million to $90 million. It would take between 320 and 360 new homes, each valued at around $250,000, to add as much value to the county’s tax rolls, and those homes – unlike the plant – would result in increased public service and infrastructure demand.

Commissioner Cliff Swetnam reported to his fellow commissions that earlier in the day before the meeting started he had received a call from Lake County Farm Bureau Executive Director Chuck March and an e-mail from Lake County Chamber Executive Director Melissa Fulton, both urging the final EIR’s approval based on their belief in its positive economic impact.”

For the full – and very resourceful – article see link below.

Source: Lake County News