From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Re: [CAPPcoord] Geothermal plant produces 185mw at the salton Sea which includes using waste water

December 5th, 2003

Hi Dustin, Jim, others,

I'm a proponent of Geothermal Energy when utilized properly, and have written to that effect on occasion, and have spoken about it to thousands of people, as one of a suite of renewable solutions for California, such as wind, wave, tide, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass, OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion), and of course, conservation.

Any ONE of these sources could replace our nuclear power plants.  ALL of them together would be orders-of magnitude more reliable than our current energy systems, and could replace not only all our nuclear power plants, but all our non-renewable electricity sources.  An abundance of energy is precisely what this country needs, and what ONLY renewables can really deliver.  To operate pumps for cleaning water.  To light up cities so they are safe at night.  To keep living environments comfortable in extreme weather.  To recharge the batteries on our electric vehicles.

All take energy, and lots of it.  The real green revolution will not begin until energy is cheap.  It sounds backwards to some, but it's not.  Cheap, clean energy ensures humanity's survival and comfort.  In poor countries, the introduction of electricity is the biggest single factor which correlates to both vastly lowered childhood death rates AND lowered birth rates AND longevity!  And education, human interaction, financial wealth, and many other things.

Providing nobody's nuke melts down in the process.  Then "all bets are off", as widespread cancers, poverty, pestilence, unhappiness and death are the inevitable result.  Just look around Chernobyl, to see a pitiable, poverty-stricken, largely abandoned area.  And the real damage goes way beyond the 10 or 20 mile radius that might be permanently cordoned off, in rusting signs which no bird nor deer nor insect can read.

Energy "too cheap to meter" was never the reality claimed by nuclear proponents, but renewables are what actually can come closest to that ideal.  And we wouldn't have to bomb anyone to get our power, or create nuclear waste.

But to return to the topic of geothermal energy, as far as I know, Dustin, you must have misunderstood something you heard or read, because there is no "brine process" for producing geothermal energy.  The "brine" is the liquid which is processed through the system, and it just happens to often be full of minerals which can be extracted through various processes.  However, the energy production process depends NOT on the chemical properties of the "brine", but rather, on the thermal capacity of the site (how much heat is available there to use?).  That's why it's called "geothermal" energy and not "geochemical" energy.

Geothermal energy has several problems, including -- possibly! -- causing earthquakes!  (I'm not making this up -- others have suggested it and claimed to have experienced a sharp increase in small tremblers in the area after a geothermal plant was built nearby.)  And the brine is often quite hazardous, as also might be any steam that is released.  It even is sometimes significantly radioactive!  Ugh!  But still, when compared to nuclear power, and all the waste IT creates (plus the dangers from terrorism, accidents, or natural disasters), radioactive releases from geothermal energy are relatively small -- and can be minimized with proper use of available technology.

However, perhaps it's true that geothermal energy plants can cause earthquakes (or initiate them, in areas which already have lots of highly stressed fault lines).  Earthquakes can cause widespread damage far from the epicenter, to chemical factories, other power plants (hint hint), and so on.  If a few windmills topple in an earthquake, basically that's no big deal (a few people might die, but nothing widespread would happen).  There's certainly no way a windmill could cause an earthquake!  However, the thinking on geothermal plants causing earthquakes is much more understandable.

When compared to the pollution caused by oil depletion and use, geothermal energy is hard to resist, providing, of course, that you properly mitigate as many of the problems as possible, by accepting a slightly lower efficiency and doing what is necessary to not poison our environment just to get a relative excess of electrons at one end of a wire versus the other end (that's really all electricity is, after all, and the source is (or should be) irrelevant to the user).

Some ways to mitigate the dangers of geothermal energy production are by, instead of spilling the brine into the local river, pumping it back deep into the earth near where it came from, after use.  Also, in some configurations, the entire energy-producing system -- the turbines -- can be put underground, with little more than the wires which bring out the electricity coming up out of the ground.  These additional operations inevitably lower the efficiency of the process -- that's why we need government regulations of these sorts of things -- but in a properly organized energy market, geothermal plants can still operate profitably at some locations. 

But in any event, to think that RIGHT NOW the most important issue for all Californians is anything but SHUTTING THE NUKE PLANTS DOWN (in part so that renewables can operate in a more equitable marketplace, receive their fair amount of public funding, public consideration and debate, public bonds, investment dollars, official government requirements that energy use be clean and green, etc.) is foolhardy at best.  First, we shut all the nukes.  It even comes before killing all the lawyers!  ;-)

I wonder when the next meltdown will occur.  Tomorrow?  Next week?  50 years from now?  Never, because activists are putting the NRC's feet to the fire?  To think that is foolhardy, indeed!

Anyone not fighting tooth and nail against nuclear power today clearly DOES (emphasis mine) think we have plenty of time.  Enough time so that THEY don't have to get involved.  Osama will wait, they think, and so will Father Time and Mother Nature -- and not to mention Mr. Murphy, who nearly got us recently, at Davis Besse in Ohio, and is fixing to strike again any day now, for 100 different reasons I know of and at least 1000 I don't know the specifics of.

Here's some facts about one of the ones I do know of.  I know a guy, a former San Onofre plant worker, who tells me he writes letters "nearly every other week" to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, complaining specifically about the HUGE HOLE IN THE CONTAINMENT DOME.  The "equipment hatch", through which could fly a shoulder-fired missile during refueling (or a band of hang-gliding terrorists could land right in front of it and run in).  He wants the NRC to AT LEAST put a barrier around the door so these sorts of things cannot happen.  The door opens directly to the outside from the reactor containment dome and is big enough to drive a semi truck through.

Anyone who thinks those domes will hold back a meltdown should try to fill a spaghetti strainer with water and see if it holds anything back.   My friend, the former plant worker, can't get no satisfaction from the NRC.  Like everything, they blindly pretend it's not a problem.  Everyone on the CAPPcoord list should at the very least, IMMEDIATELY demand that the NRC require nuke plants to protect this enormous doorway, which is left open for weeks at a time during refueling, which is the worst possible time, because the reactor pressure vessel head is removed at that time as well, making the whole reactor a very tempting target (and the times of these refuelings are public knowledge, and every terrorist already knows everything I've just said, and they have reactors built by the same companies as have built American reactors in other countries, which they can study).

Do those who are so delighted over relatively small and possibly green energy projects think the "experts" will simply -- poof -- someday find a cost-effective solution to these problems, or to the problem of disposing of High Level Radioactive Waste in a closed environment?  HLRW grows by a ton every two days in California alone, with four operational nuke plants.  Does anyone on this list think they live far enough away from those four plants that they cannot possibly be hurt, either financially or physically, by a meltdown?

San Onofre just recently received their final permits to ship the Reactor Pressure Vessel from the old Unit 1 reactor around Cape Horn -- a very dangerous route -- because a rail route across America and a trip through the Panama Canal were both blocked successfully.  Are those individuals who focus on working within "the system" aware of what an international scandal it will be if anything happens to the 800-ton RPV during the journey?  Are they worried about the whales and dolphins which will undoubtedly swim near the thing if it sinks and isn't recovered immediately, or at all?

While we discuss a few paltry renewable energy bread-crumbs, San Onofre and Diablo Cyn crumble right before our eyes.  Is the general public paying any attention?  No, not at all.  But someday, we'll surely wish we had listened to the thousands of voices who have cried out and warned us -- voices from people with all the credentials in the world.  Nobel Laureates.  Physicians.  Physicists.  Engineers.  Economists.  And activists.

And we've heard it from terrorists, too -- they have repeatedly threatened our nuke plants, and as we continue to use nuclear (radiological) weapons against them and their suspected allies, their threats become more and more "tit for tat" and retaliatory in nature.  Chilling.

It certainly appears that a nuclear meltdown is as inevitable as taxes, because people refuse to do anything, apparently figuring that someone else is doing enough, or else they just don't know any better.  But in today's threat environment, either reason is treason.  These are the problems we have to solve.


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

At 06:09 AM 12/2/2003 , Dustin wrote:


<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />Hello Jim,Russel,Richard( anyone else out there)

Below is an article regarding the proposal of geo-thermal plant at the Salton Sea. My favorite part about the implementation about the plant is it will use polluted water for the processes. Does anyone know how the Brine processes work for generating electricity. The company responsible for building the plant  is CE Obsidian Energy, LLC, a subsidiary of CalEnergy Operating Company. They claim the plant will produce 185mw of power. Yesterday, I said it was less, so I wanted to clarify. Almost 20 percent of a nuke power plant. I contacted the plant in regards to producing bio-fuels and expanding on the water recycling processes. We will see what develops.


best reards,

Dustin Johnston



Energy Commission Releases Proposed Decision For Salton Sea Power Plant


Sacramento - An Energy Commission Siting Committee recommends the Salton Sea Unit 6 Geothermal Power Project be approved by the full Commission. The Committee responsible for the Energy Commission review of the renewable energy proposal released the Presiding Member's Proposed Decision today.

The proposed decision for the Salton Sea Unit 6 project can be found on the Energy Commission website at:

The Salton Sea Unit 6 Geothermal Power Project would use the steam from geothermal brine to generate 185 megawatts through a high-efficiency, condensing-steam turbine. Wastewater, including storm runoff, will be reinjected into the geothermal resource. If approved by the full Commission, Unit 6 will be the largest geothermal power plant in the United States. The power it generates will supply customers of the Imperial Irrigation District and be sold into the California electricity market. The applicant, CE Obsidian Energy, LLC, is targeting 2005 to begin plant operations.

The project is located near the southeast shore of the Salton Sea, within the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area. The site is an 80-acre portion of a 160-acre parcel owned by the applicant that is zoned Heavy Industrial, Agricultural and Geothermal. Productive farmland that will be lost to the project will be mitigated through a deed restriction on land that will remain committed to agriculture forever.

For geothermal facilities, the Energy Commission evaluates all aspects of the project, but permits for the geothermal production and injection wells will be issued by the Department of Conservation, Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources. The permitting of well pads and brine pipelines will be the responsibility of Imperial County.

The Presiding Member's Proposed Decision is not the final decision on the Salton Sea Unit 6 Geothermal Power Project. The full Energy Commission must vote on whether to license the plant. That vote is scheduled for December 17, 2003. Written comments on the proposed decision will be accepted through December 17th.

Comments must be addressed to:
Garret Shean
Salton Sea Unit 6 Project
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS-9
Sacramento, CA 95814

In addition, the Salton Sea Unit 6 Project Siting Committee, consisting of Energy Commission Chairman William Keese as Presiding Member and Commissioner Robert Pernell as Associate Member, will hold a public conference to solicit comments on the proposed decision. The date and time of the conference will be announced within the next two weeks. Public participation is an important part of the Energy Commission licensing process. For more information on how to submit comments and participate in the process, contact the Energy Commission's Public Adviser, Margret Kim, toll free at (800) 822-6228 or by e-mail at:

The report, along with errata, is available at the Energy Commission's website at:




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