CAISO: Alternatives to Puentes gas plant could cost up to $1.1B
- By procuring distributed resources that include solar power, demand response and energy storage, the California ISO has determined that construction of a natural gas power plant proposed for Ventura County could be avoided.
- In June, CAISO announced it would study clean energy alternatives to a planned gas expansion near the city of Oxnard, Calif., which looked to replace the 573 MW Mandalay Bay natural gas facility operated by NRG.
- While the gas expansion would cost an estimated $299 million, CAISO's study found three alternatives would cost anywhere between $309 million and $1.1 billion.
California's grid operator and Southern California Edison (SCE) worked to develop three alternative resource scenarios to meet the Moorpark local capacity requirements absent the proposed Puente gas plant.
Each of the scenarios includes 80 MW of energy storage enabled demand response resources, 25 MW of incremental solar/energy storage hybrid resources, and approximately 30 MW of existing slow responding demand response resources coupled with incremental energy storage.
"This represents an incremental 135 MW of distributed resources that are assumed to be procured or properly enabled in the Moorpark subarea under all three scenarios," the report says.
But the incremental distributed resources is not sufficient to meet the local capacity requirements—so CAISO studied three scenarios to quantify the amount of additional “grid-connected” resources necessary to meet the applicable reliability criteria.
Incremental distributed resources plus grid connected battery storage is expected to cost $805 million. If the Ellwood Generating Station is also retired, incremental distributed resources plus grid connected battery storage could cost up to $1.1 billion. Other configurations without the retirement would cost between $309 million and $359 million.
The Los Angeles Times noted that despite the higher costs, clean energy advocates hailed the report.
Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy spokesman Lucas Zucker told the Times that the CAISO report "shows that a better future is possible if the California Energy Commission decides that Oxnard deserves it ... For generations, the fossil fuel industry has used Oxnard as a sacrifice zone for polluting power plants under the pretense that we had no better alternatives."
The California Public Utilities Commission approved the Puente project last summer, with plans to have it online by 2020. But in February, several lawmakers sent a letter to the the California Energy Commission saying regulators needed to "adequately justify" the need for the plant. Local residents say they would prefer to shutter the existing plant there and restore the beachfront.
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