California

Energy Storage a Vital Tool in Southern California

CaliforniaA proving grounds for energy storage is in Southern California, where a large project is underway to compensate for the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, which has not been allowed to accept new gas since methane leaks caused serious problems in 2015.

This week, Southern California Edison (SoCal) and Tesla Motors took the wraps off what the Los Angeles Times calls one of the largest energy storage facilities in the world. The 1.5 acre site, at the Mira Loma substation, harnesses almost 400 Tesla PowerPack lithium-ion batteries. The batteries, the story says, can power 2,500 homes for a day or 15,000 homes for four hours.

The overall initiative is much broader:

In addition to the Tesla-Edison project, storage facilities of similar size are being rolled out by San Diego Gas & Electric with AES Energy Storage and by Greensmith Energy Partners with AltaGas. In all, the projects are adding 77.5 megawatts of energy storage to the state’s electricity grid.

Storage technology is a key to enabling the state to meet its mandate of producing half of its electricity from clean sources by 2030 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The overall project is controversial.

In a commentary in The Whittier Daily News state senator Henry Stern — a Democrat representing Calabasas — says that the Aliso Canyon is set to reopen. The decision, the story says, is being driven by the threat of blackouts. Stern objects. The crisis was met by innovation in storage and renewables, he writes. That is making the quick reopening – before, he says, the reason for the blowouts have been determined – unnecessary.

The general outlines of what Stern is advocating are described at The Signal, a news site in the Santa Clarita Valley. The details have not been determined, but Stern wants to established 120 MW of clean energy storage projects involving Santa Clarita-run and investor-owned projects during the next year. Talks are underway with the California Energy Storage Alliance, SoCal and San Diego Gas and Electric, the story says.

The millions of organizations that rely on the utilities in southern California must stay up to speed on the progress being made in incorporating storage. The fate of the Alisa Canyon natural gas facility and the renewable projects that sprung up after its failure are vitally important to their future.

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