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ABSTRACT: Environment Support Program for a Major Geothermal Project, Coso, California

David McClain, Laurie McClenahan

The Coso known geothermal resource area, developed by California Energy Company, Inc., has become the fourth largest geothermal development in the world with over 100 production wells completed and 240 MW of power on line. Drilling began in 1983 with the first discovery wells, and project development began in 1985. The need for fast-track permitting became apparent in 1987 with completion of several stepout discovery wells over 3 mi from the known production area. This discovery tripled the size of recoverable reserves and allowed for full development of power sales contracts that would expire in 1990. Project plans had to incorporate a fast-track environmental approval and permitting program which allowed flexibility for changes in drilling locations as geological data b came refined with each succeeding well.

The 14-mi2 land position was divided into three separate project areas to reflect joint venture ownership and regulatory jurisdiction. All three areas had to be developed simultaneously. Each of the project areas have significantly different regulatory requirements. Over 300 separate environmental approvals and permits were obtained in less than 3 yr. Permits were issued by the China Lake Naval Weapons Center, the surface manager and a resource owner, the Bureau of Land Management, resource manager; and the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, the California Water Quality Control Board, and the California Energy Commission. The development and execution of a closely coordinated agency review process, accelerated permitting program, and corporate support progr m are described.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91003©1990 AAPG Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, June 3-6, 1990