- A letter to California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) from three key California energy agencies warns that a long-term shutdown of the natural gas storage facility near Los Angeles that has been leaking methane for months could disrupt electricity generation.
- Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon facility began leaking methane at an estimated 60,000kg/hr in October and continues to leak at 20,700 kg/hour. In their letter, the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Independent System Operator expressed concern about the reliability of electric and gas service during the summer months if withdrawals cannot resume from gas stored at the facility.
- The facility’s 115 repurposed oil wells can hold 86 billion cubic feet of natural gas, a 21 day supply at the region’s 4 billion cubic feet/day peak use. Regulators, concerned about electric reliability in the LA Basin, last week halted SoCalGas withdrawals with 15 billion cubic feet of natural gas remaining in the well.
In their letter, the three agencies’ wrote to Gov. Brown that they are working with local power producers to understand the threat to electricity delivery posed by the methane leak. Activists are calling on them to make their findings public.
The energy agencies raised concerns particularly about the reliability of electricity generation in the Los Angeles Basin during the summer months if the gas facility stays offline.
"There is good reason to be concerned that reliability of supply may be critical for electric generators in the LA Basin, especially those serving LADWP," the agencies wrote. "We expect to complete the work related to summer 2016 by April when we will hold a public, joint agency workshop in Los Angeles to describe the reliability risks and present a reliability action plan for mitigating them."
Other than electricity generation, the immediate concern about the leak is the health impacts on nearby residents from chemical components in processed natural gas added to make its smell detectable.
As of February 1, SoCalGas had relocated 4,401 homes, was in the process of relocating 1,228 more, and had installed 4,327 air scrubbers for area residents.
On January 29, SoCalGas reported that relief well drilling operations had reached a critical point and 20 additional LA County Fire Department personnel would remain on site “to support the 150-plus operations personnel working to stop the leak” of the highly volatile methane.
As of January 29, the California Air Resources Board reported the leaking well had emitted 2.2 million tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases. That is no more than 1% of California’s annual GHG emissions, according to SoCalGas, but critics say the leak highlights the environmental pitfalls of a reliance on natural gas for electricity generation.