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Houston geothermal company picks up power purchase agreement in California

Under two 15-year deals, Southern California Edison has agreed to buy a total of 320 megawatts of geothermal power from Fervo Energy. Photo via Getty Images

Houston-based Fervo Energy, a provider of geothermal power, has signed up one of the country’s largest utilities as a new customer.

Under two 15-year deals, Southern California Edison has agreed to buy a total of 320 megawatts of geothermal power from Fervo. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. The power will be enough to deliver electricity to the equivalent of 350,000 homes.

Southern California Edison, based in Rosemead, California, serves about 15 million people throughout a 50,000-square-mile area in California.

The utility will purchase the power from Fervo’s 400-megawatt Cape Station plant, which is under construction in southwest Utah. The plant’s first phase, providing 70 megawatts of power, is expected to be online by 2026.

“This announcement is another milestone in California’s commitment to clean zero-carbon electricity,” David Hochschild, chair of the California Energy Commission, says in a news release.

“Enhanced geothermal systems complement our abundant wind and solar resources by providing critical base load when those sources are limited,” he adds. “This is key to ensuring reliability as we continue to transition away from fossil fuels.”

In June, Fervo announced it would supply 115 megawatts of geothermal power for Google’s two data centers in Nevada. Two years ago, Fervo signed a deal with energy aggregators in California to supply 53 megawatts of geothermal power from Cape Station.

“As electrification increases and climate change burdens already fragile infrastructure, geothermal will only play a bigger role in U.S. power markets,” says Dawn Owens, Fervo's head of development and commercial markets.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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A View From HETI

Governor Abbott said he was sending a letter to the Public Utility Commission of Texas requiring it to investigate why restoration has taken so long and what must be done to fix it. Photo via X/Governor Abbott

With around 270,000 homes and businesses still without power in the Houston area almost a week after Hurricane Beryl hit Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday said he's demanding an investigation into the response of the utility that serves the area as well as answers about its preparations for upcoming storms.

“Power companies along the Gulf Coast must be prepared to deal with hurricanes, to state the obvious,” Abbott said at his first news conference about Beryl since returning to the state from an economic development trip to Asia.

While CenterPoint Energy has restored power to about 2 million customers since the storm hit on July 8, the slow pace of recovery has put the utility, which provides electricity to the nation’s fourth-largest city, under mounting scrutiny over whether it was sufficiently prepared for the storm that left people without air conditioning in the searing summer heat.

Abbott said he was sending a letter to the Public Utility Commission of Texas requiring it to investigate why restoration has taken so long and what must be done to fix it. In the Houston area, Beryl toppled transmission lines, uprooted trees and snapped branches that crashed into power lines.

With months of hurricane season left, Abbott said he's giving CenterPoint until the end of the month to specify what it'll be doing to reduce or eliminate power outages in the event of another storm. He said that will include the company providing detailed plans to remove vegetation that still threatens power lines.

Abbott also said that CenterPoint didn't have “an adequate number of workers pre-staged" before the storm hit.

Following Abbott's news conference, CenterPoint said its top priority was “power to the remaining impacted customers as safely and quickly as possible,” adding that on Monday, the utility expects to have restored power to 90% of its customers. CenterPoint said it was committed to working with state and local leaders and to doing a “thorough review of our response.”

CenterPoint also said Sunday that it’s been “investing for years” to strengthen the area’s resilience to such storms.

The utility has defended its preparation for the storm and said that it has brought in about 12,000 additional workers from outside Houston. It has said it would have been unsafe to preposition those workers inside the predicted storm impact area before Beryl made landfall.

Brad Tutunjian, vice president for regulatory policy for CenterPoint Energy, said last week that the extensive damage to trees and power poles hampered the ability to restore power quickly.

A post Sunday on CenterPoint's website from its president and CEO, Jason Wells, said that over 2,100 utility poles were damaged during the storm and over 18,600 trees had to be removed from power lines, which impacted over 75% of the utility's distribution circuits.

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