Blackouts looming, California speeds battery deployment after Aliso Canyon gas leak

A recent article in Utility Dive You are leaving WAPA.gov. explores the steps California is taking to mitigate the repercussions of the massive Aliso Canyon methane leak in the Los Angeles Basin last October.

Aliso Canyon is a repurposed oil field north of the San Fernando Valley that can store up to 86 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas to distribute to homes, businesses and power plants. It took owner Southern California Gas four months to plug the leak, leaving only 15 bcf of gas in the field, and now there is a moratorium on further drilling. The loss of the ability and capacity to store gas, as well as the stored gas itself, has created reliability concerns for both gas and electric customers.

Before the natural gas leak last fall, the Aliso Canyon Gas Fields in Southern California could store up to 86 billion cubic feet of gas. The loss of the facility threatens to affect reliability in the region.

Before the natural gas leak last fall, the Aliso Canyon Gas Fields in Southern California could store up to 86 billion cubic feet of gas. The loss of the facility threatens to affect reliability in the region. (Photo by California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services)

The California’s Public Utilities Commission You are leaving WAPA.gov. (PUC) issued a directive in May, freeing up utility funds that could be used to increase energy-efficiency programs. The state’s action plan includes asking electric customers to reduce consumption, expanding demand response programs and calling for revised tariffs to encourage gas shippers to more tightly match supply and demand, thus reducing the need for storage.

Bringing storage online
Fast-tracking plans to build energy storage may be the most intriguing measure state agencies are pursuing to prevent possible service interruptions. In May, the PUC began the process for an expedited procurement solicitation for energy storage that could be in service Dec. 31, 2016.

At the time, San Diego Gas and Electric was already far along on a request for offers to fill its 2016 Preferred Resource Local Capacity Requirement You are leaving WAPA.gov.. The PUC modified its original resolution, which did not mention SDG&E, to help the utility to find projects that could come online by the December deadline.

In the end, SDG&E selected a 30-megawatt (MW), 120-megawatt-hour (MWh) project in Escondido, and a 7.5-MW, 30-MWh project in El Cajon. The locations were chosen to alleviate electric reliability concerns associated with Aliso Canyon.

AES Energy Storage will build both utility-owned projects, and has a long-term service contract with SDG&E covering the first 10 years of operation, to begin before Jan. 31, 2017. The projects will bid into the California ISO market.

The article is long, but is well worth your time to read. If successful, the Aliso Canyon Energy Storage Project would demonstrate a number of aspects of energy storage that utilities elsewhere might apply in their own regions. The circumstances that made the projects possible are specific to California, but utilities should be aware that energy storage offers them another potential tool for delivering reliable service.

Source: Utility Dive, 8/11/16