Schiavo, Stern oppose new Aliso Canyon proposal

Politics and government

By Signal Staff 

Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, announced her opposition to a new Aliso Canyon proposal, joining with two other legislators in the region who shared their concerns about increasing storage at the facility before the California Public Utilities Commission and federal authorities have completed their investigations into the causes of the winter gas price spikes.  

Schiavo, Sen. Henry Stern, D-Calabasas, and Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, collectively represent the residents closest to the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, where the largest methane leak in U.S. history forced thousands to flee their homes, many experiencing health impacts of the leak, said a news release from Schiavo’s office. 

All three came out in solidarity with impacted communities against the proposal, the release said. 

“This proposal is an unwelcome surprise. SoCalGas says more use of this dangerous gas field will keep prices down, but there are still too many unanswered questions to proceed,” said a statement from the legislators in the news release. “What responsibility does the Gas Co. and their parent company Sempra owe Southern California ratepayers? If more storage can bring down prices, why didn’t SoCalGas Co. use their available storage during last year’s spike instead of buying gas at unprecedented high rates? Federal and state investigations are asking these, and other, questions in order to understand the cause of price spikes. However, this proposed decision appears premature. 

“The impacted communities deserve reassurance that this proposal will not undercut the governor’s commitment to closure and that the proposed increase is, in fact, necessary. Such assurance can be made, alongside this decision, if the CPUC finalized their long delayed, but well proposed, decision to responsibly phase out Aliso. This proposal goes in the opposite direction.” 

Attorneys for SoCalGas and San Diego Gas & Electric Co., in filings submitted to the CPUC, wrote that the increased capacity is crucial to ensure market stability, resource availability and more reasonable energy prices in the coming winter.  

“In Phase 2 of this proceeding, commission staff found that Aliso Canyon is needed for reliability and mitigates against price volatility, reduces customer bills, and reduces the price of energy (natural gas and electric generation) in California,” the attorneys wrote. “Moreover, the commission has provided that ‘[g]iven the circumstances today, it is undeniable that the availability of gas at Aliso Canyon influences the price of gas and what customers pay for gas and electricity’ and ‘[t]he natural gas inventory level at Aliso Canyon has economic impacts on gas prices, natural gas costs and electricity costs for customers.’” 

The attorneys’ filing added: “In order to mitigate against similar price spikes in the future and impacts to customers, and to preserve reliability, the commission should take expedited action to increase the inventory limit at Aliso Canyon to 68.6 (billion cubic feet).” 

The current limit is 41.16 billion cubic feet. The CPUC may vote on whether to increase the limit sometime this month. 

Schiavo’s Assembly district includes most of the Santa Clarita Valley and northern portions of the San Fernando Valley, including Aliso Canyon. Stern’s Senate district includes western portions of the SCV as well as Aliso Canyon and other communities to the south of the SCV.  

Aliso Canyon is located southwest of the SCV, near Porter Ranch. Thousands of Porter Ranch residents, including many children, reported neurological, gastrointestinal and other respiratory health issues due to exposure from the 2015 gas leak. 

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