Stern proposes clean-energy storage push

Henry Stern, Feel The Stern,
State Sen. Henry Stern. Courtesy photo

State Sen. Henry Stern on Monday announced a proposal to “double down” on clean-energy storage in Southern California, a move he said would be a step toward limiting reliance on natural gas and other fossil fuels, and toward safeguarding ratepayers.

Stern, a Democrat and one of Santa Clarita’s two state senators, is basing his proposal on the fact that, following last year’s Aliso Canyon gas blowout – which took that facility offline — the state went into a kind of emergency mode and was able to build various infrastructure that stored some 100 megawatts of so-called clean energy.

A majority of electricity consumed in Southern California is produced by power plants fueled by natural gas, according to SoCal Gas, which runs Aliso — and so, according to Stern, stored energy of the kind he is proposing would lessen reliance on gas.

Increasing storage capability after the Aliso crisis came about after 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, Stern is basically saying – That was great, but let’s do more.

“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 Porter Ranch crisis to a cleaner, safer, more affordable energy grid that benefits all Southern California ratepayers.”

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

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, a nonprofit advocacy group whose members include manufacturers, project developers and other elements 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 more of is located at SoCal Edison’s substation in Mira Loma, where on Monday 396 huge, Tesla-designed lithium ion batteries went on line to boost the electrical grid’s reliability.

Reportedly, those batteries alone can power 15,000 homes for about four hours.

“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,” said Stern.


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