Saturday, 25 May 2024

Neighbors, geothermal plant to have followup meeting Thursday

COBB – A followup meeting for community members concerned about the operation of the Bottle Rock Power Plant will be held this Thursday and will offer an update on progress in dealing with a variety of issues.


The meeting will take place at the Little Red Schoolhouse on Cobb, 15780 Bottle Rock Road, at 6 p.m. Thursday.


An initial gathering was held at the schoolhouse on Oct. 30, in which neighbors of the plant – which reopened at the end of March 2007 – made it clear they were tired of waiting for the plant's operators to finally address ongoing issues such as noise and concerns over potentially hazardous materials being stored on the property in drill sump ponds.


One of the most outspoken neighbors, David Coleman, shared his concerns at that meeting, and plans to attend Thursday as well.


Coleman, who said he “wasn't very reassured” by the last meeting, said he plans to put together information packages for several agencies to explain the neighbor's main problems.


While he said the plant's sound levels are bothersome, “Our core group is just mainly concerned with the toxicity of the material.”


The material in question is what comes out of the drills. Coleman said tons of material comes out of the 18- to 20-inch drilling holes that go down about two miles into the ground in pursuit of the geothermal resource.


At the October meeting Coleman said officials confirmed for the first time that those materials might be toxic.


“I thought the county's explanations were really quite pathetic,” Coleman said.


Water safety was another issue that came out on Oct. 30, with some plant neighbors saying their water wells had been contaminated.


Coleman said a lot of people pull water from Kelsey Creek, and he's concerned because the area's water also flows to Clear Lake.


Supervisor Rob Brown, who has put the meetings together, said the plant's management is “working to try to mitigate some of the concerns expressed at the meeting,”


Since Oct. 30 he has had discussions with county Community Development Director Rick Coel and Larry Bandt, vice president of engineering for Oski Energy, which manages the power plant for its owners, regarding sound control.


Speed issues on High Valley Road, where neighbors said plant trucks were driving too fast, causing safety problems and destroying the road, also are being dealt with, said Brown.


One potential development on the county side is consideration of hiring a geothermal consultant.


Hamilton Hess, chair of the Friends of Cobb Mountain, suggested on Oct. 30 that the county have a geothermal point person, which the county had in the past.


Brown said the suggestion was a good one, and the county is now looking at hiring planning consultant Melissa Floyd – who has worked with both the county and city of Clearlake – to fill that role. He said state funds would help pay for Floyd's services.


If the board approves hiring Floyd, she would monitor geothermal projects, said Brown. That would include coordinating contacts between county and state agencies – Environmental Health, Fish and Game and Air Quality – that have a role in permitting and overseeing such operations.


Floyd also would be the person community members could take concerns to, Brown said.


He'll introduce Floyd and the idea of hiring her to the power plant's neighbors Thursday.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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