California Utility Pitches Cleaner Battery Storage to Replace 40-Year-Old Power Plant
A California utility is planning to replace a 40-year-old, Oakland-area power plant running on jet fuel with two lithium-ion battery storage projects.
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) proposed the project in an application to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last week. “The projects are part of the Oakland Clean Energy Initiative, a ‘first-of-its-kind’ utility-community choice aggregator (CCA) collaboration aimed at promoting clean energy alternatives in the region,” and “part of the larger shift away from traditional generation and transmission to more distributed energy resources,” Utility Dive reports.
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The existing, 165-megawatt Oakland Power Plant is required to run to ensure a reliable regional grid, and in an earlier release, PG&E said the California Independent System Operator had declared its closure risky. Now the two battery plants, totalling 43.25 MW/173 megawatt-hours, are seen as “an environmentally conscious reliability solution for the Oakland community, which has been identified by the California Environmental Protection Agency as having one of the worst pollution profiles in the Bay area,” Utility Dive write, citing PG&E spokesperson Paul Doherty.
“There’s been widespread support and this solution really does a number of things—it’s going to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it supports local jobs, and provides continued service reliability,” Doherty said. “And then, it enables the retirement of an aging fossil generation power plant.”
He added that the Oakland Clean Energy Initiative, a collaboration between PG&E and East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), had come up with a “novel approach to grid reliability” that “uses targeted distributed energy resource deployment—so targeted energy storage—and then investment in the surrounding grid infrastructure.”
At the moment, “the ball is really in CPUC’s court to approve those contracts with PG&E,” said EBCE Chief Operating Officer Howard Chang. Vistra Energy, whose subsidiary Dynegy Oakland operates the current plant, expects the batteries to go into service in January 2022. Once the power plant shuts down, the utility plans to build more storage capacity on the site.