Overcoming Natural Gas Shortages to Build a Better Grid

Posted May 31, 2016 by Zoe Fishman

The gas leak at Aliso Canyon’s underground storage facility has become infamous as the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history. The carbon footprint from the gas leak is said to be larger than the Deepwater Horizon leak in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and has left the facility with less than one-fifth of its capacity. SoCal Gas is now barred from storing gas at the Aliso Canyon facility until all wells are thoroughly investigated, and determined to be safe.
A report released in April by the California Public Utilities Commission, California Energy Commission, the California Independent System Operator, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and Southern California Gas Company predicted up to 14 days of rolling blackouts this summer as demand for electricity spikes with the warmer weather. 11 million people across the greater Los Angeles who receive natural gas supplies from Aliso Canyon are likely to be affected by these blackouts.

Storage to the rescue

Governor Jerry Brown called on the CPUC to take steps to guarantee reliable gas and electricity resources throughout the summer. The CPUC quickly narrowed in on energy storage as a critical solution to address reliability. Energy storage can be a fast-responding, firm and dispatchable resource, and it can be constructed, interconnected and installed in a fairly short timeline. Storage projects built over the next few months could even start alleviating demand for natural gas by next winter.
Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission granted approval to Southern California Edison to procure storage to help alleviate the outage concerns from the Aliso Canyon leak. The CPUC ruled that SCE should acquire front-of-the-meter storage that must be operational by December 31, 2016 in order to quickly start serving its purpose as a reliable alternative to natural gas.

Shaping long-term solutions

In addition to short-term reliability issues, the Aliso Canyon gas leak has also raised significant questions about natural gas as a reliable resource in the long-term. Many are pushing for the state to consider this gas leak a motivator to reduce overall reliance on natural gas and increase the share of renewable energy and energy storage.
At Energy Storage North America, we’ll explore the issue of natural gas as a reliable resource, and the role that storage can play in risk mitigation and resource diversification for the Western power grid. A keynote panel on October 4, ESNA’s opening night, will bring together utilities and regulators to explore high-level goals and strategies for shaping a future-proofed power grid. We’re pleased to announce that Stephen Berberich, President and CEO of the California ISO will moderate this panel discussion, pushing panelists to explore the key steps needed to get beyond natural gas, and ultimately build a better, stronger grid.
Don’t miss out on the conversation – register for ESNA today. 

Image Source: Scott L