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Geothermal balances California’s renewable portfolio

May 13, 2019 / V. John White

California’s rapid renewable energy expansion has led to a boom in large-scale solar and wind projects and a huge expansion of rooftop solar. As costs have fallen, solar energy has become much less expensive, and utility-scale solar and wind are now less expensive than new gas plants, and far less expensive than existing coal. Geothermal energy has historically been a large part of California’s renewable energy portfolio, but its role in California’s renewable power supply has steadily declined. California utilities have contracted for virtually no new geothermal as part of their push to comply with the California 50 percent renewable portfolio standard. The reasons most often cited for why geothermal has been left behind are that it costs more than solar or wind and utilities’ principal goal in building their renewable portfolios is to minimize their cost of complying with the state renewable standard.