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California plans to increase Aliso’s natural gas storage capacity before winter


The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) plans to review two proposals to increase licensed gas production capacity at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Los Angeles County.

The proposals aim to ensure sufficient supply this winter for gas and electricity customers in the Los Angeles Basin, CPUC said last week. The maximum capacity currently authorized is 34 Bcf, or less than half of the limit of 86 Bcf in place before a massive methane leak in 2015 on the site.

“As we move towards saving clean energy, we need to ensure energy reliability,” said CPUC Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves. “We need to do this in a way that does not undermine our mandate to ultimately reduce our dependence on natural gas infrastructure like Aliso Canyon.”

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An administrative judge proposed to allow Aliso’s owner / operator, Southern California Gas Co., to increase gas storage capacity to 68.6 Bcf. This is the maximum amount allowed to ensure safe operations, according to the California Geologic Energy Management Division.

Guzman Aceves, meanwhile, proposes a more modest increase to 41 Bcf.

“The 41 Bcf limit is safe and reliable, and it will get us through this winter as we continue our progress towards planning how to reduce or eliminate our use of Aliso Canyon by 2027 or 2035,” or anytime in between, ”she said. .

Why would Aliso shut down?

The CPUC is due to vote on the proposal to be approved at a meeting scheduled for November 4.

The proposals are part of a larger process underway to determine the feasibility of shutting down Aliso to meet the state’s climate change targets. Authorities are evaluating the most effective ways to maintain energy reliability in the event of a shutdown.

At the end of September, Governor Gavin Newsom promulgated a bill to accelerate the deployment of clean, zero-carbon electricity resources to ensure grid reliability on the path to decarbonization.

However, California’s energy system has been strained by extremely hot and dry conditions, limiting hydroelectric production and putting infrastructure at risk of damage from wildfires.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently approved a request from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to send additional natural gas-fired generation capacity beyond allowable levels to offset potential shortfalls.

CPUC hired FTI Consulting Inc. to model different scenarios to guide potential pathways to replace Aliso, the commission said. The FTI plans to present its findings at a public workshop on Nov. 3 and publish a report by the end of the year, the CPUC added.

The CPUC, CAISO and California Energy Commission are also developing the 20-year driveline outlook, which would examine how the driveline system will need to change to achieve the goal of a 100% carbon-free energy sector by 2045. The study should look at scenarios that include Aliso’s downtime, CPUC said.

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