Legislator Energizes Golden State’s Storage Effort

State Senator Henry Stern (D-District 27) proposed (SB-146) on January 17 to “double down” on clean-energy storage in Southern California – a move he said would help limit regional reliance on natural gas and other fossil fuels, and would safeguard ratepayers, based on a report in The Signal of Santa Clarita Valley.

Stern is basing his proposal on lessons learned following the 112-day gas leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility, which lasted from October 2015 through February 2016.

By the time Southern California Gas managed to plug the rupture in its well about four months after the blowout, nearly 100,000 metric tons of methane had escaped over Los Angeles – making it the largest atmospheric release in U.S. history, according to the L.A Daily News.

Immediately after the leak, the state commenced emergency efforts (SB-380) to increase clean energy storage capability and lessen the load on individual wells. The California Public Utilities Commission expedited approval and construction of clean-energy storage projects in areas covered by Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.

Now, according to The Signal, Stern is basically saying – That was great, but let’s do more. He has proposed not only a continuing moratorium on natural gas storage until all existing wells are inspected, but he has urged his Golden State legislative colleagues to build more clean-energy storage facilities.

Stern wants to establish a framework for “expediting” another 120 MW in new clean-energy storage projects – covering both investor-owned and city-run territories in the next year, The Signal reported.

“Last year’s build-out of local, clean-energy storage projects was completed in record time and under budget,’’ Stern said in a release. There’s no reason we shouldn’t double down.

“We must pivot from the … crisis to a cleaner, safer, more affordable energy grid that benefits all Southern California ratepayers.”

While specific projects, and specific sites, are still to be decided, Stern’s Chief of Staff Elizabeth Fenton said, “We’re talking to the energy storage association, working with them, with (SoCal) Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric.”

Fenton’s “energy storage association” reference is to the California Energy Storage Alliance, an advocacy group representing manufacturers, project developers, and other sectors of the energy-storage industry.

“California has historically been reliant on natural gas, and energy storage provides an ideal pathway forward for diversifying our resources and utilizing abundant local renewable energy as a cost-competitive alternative to natural gas,” Janice Lin, executive director of the Alliance, said in a statement released by Stern’s office.

One example of the kind of storage facility that Stern is looking for is located at SoCal Edison’s substation in Mira Loma, where on January 30, Tesla-designed Powerpack lithium ion batteries went on line to boost the electrical grid’s reliability.

“More clean-energy storage in our system will reduce risks not just to North San Fernando Valley residents living in the shadow of Aliso Canyon, but to all ratepayers in Southern California who will benefit from a more resilient, diverse, and cleaner grid,” Stern told The Signal.

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