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California pushes replacing Aliso Canyon storage plant with renewables

September 27, 2022

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California regulators proposed that utilities deploy a combination of energy efficiency, building electrification, and renewable electric power generation in order to allow Southern California Gas Co. to retire the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility as soon as 2027.

In the coming years, electric and gas utilities would seek to develop several gigawatts of electric power assets and cut several hundred million cubic feet of gas demand, according to a Sept. 23 filing by staff at the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC. The plan was consistent with an ongoing building electrification push, efforts to strategically retire the gas grid, and other recent regulatory maneuvers to reduce gas's role in the California energy mix.

The proposal stemmed from 2016 legislation that ordered the CPUC to explore reducing or eliminating use of SoCalGas' Aliso Canyon Storage Facility following a massive leak at the facility in 2015 and 2016. The CPUC opened an investigation into the matter in 2017 (17-02-002).

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other officials have implored the CPUC to create a plan to wind down the facility's operations within a decade. However, an ongoing energy transition, limited energy import pathways into California, and strained capacity on existing in-state gas transportation and distribution infrastructure mean that an immediate closure of Aliso Canyon could have "potentially severe consequences for millions of Californians," CPUC President Alice Busching Reynolds said in a Sept. 23 ruling outlining next steps for the proposal.

[Tom DiChristopher]

More: Calif. regulator proposes replacing Aliso Canyon with clean power asset

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