California PUC approves expedited storage buy to guard against gas shortages
- The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved planst to allow Southern California Edison to expedite the purchase of battery energy storage to help prevent potential blackouts that could result from the troubled Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility.
- The commission and other state energy agencies have warned that without the Aliso Canyon field, the state's largest natural gas storage facility, Southern California could face blackouts during as many as 14 days this summer.
- The procurement will be expedited through a competitive solicitation; the PUC did not designate a level of storage for the procurement.
The Aliso Canyon facility, owned and operated by Southern California Gas, drew national attention after a leak was discovered in one of its 115 wells last October.
It took Southern California Gas four months to seal the well, amounting to the worst natural gas leak in the nation's history and forcing thousands of residents in the nearby Porter Ranch community to flee their homes after complaints of illness.
Last month, a joint report from the CPUC, the state energy office, the California ISO and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power warned that customers could have to curtail their usage or even face blackouts if no action is taken.
The California PUC is now following through on draft ruling issued in mid-May, calling for SCE to hold an expedited procurement solicitation for energy storage capacity to help alleviate outage concerns caused by the Aliso Canyon gas leak.
The energy system in the Los Angeles basis is build around the Aliso storage facility. Without it, “Southern California faces a number of energy reliability challenges — for electricity and for residential heating — this summer, next winter, and at least for the next summer after that, all related to the loss of gas storage at Aliso Canyon," commission President Michael Picker said.
Picker said the agency is "doing what we can to expedite the next generation of energy solutions in that very constrained piece of California’s infrastructure."
In addition to increasing use of battery storage, the energy agencies have urged consumers to look for ways to conserve energy.
New storage buys should also be price-competitive with previous SCE storage solicitations, regulators said. Because it is unclear how long the situation at Aliso Canyon will last, SCE "may enter into contracts with terms of 10 years or less."
Follow Peter Maloney on Twitter