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California utility PG&E requests approval for 387MW / 1,548MWh of battery storage procurements

By Andy Colthorpe
A subsidiary of LS Power, the company behind the world’s largest battery storage project in operation today, Gateway Energy Storage – also in California – was one of the awardees. Image: LS Power / PR Newsfoto.

PG&E, one of California’s main investor-owned utilities (IoUs) has awarded contracts for more than 1,000MW of battery energy storage projects to be deployed in its service area by the end of 2023, the company’s senior VP for energy policy and procurement has said.

The utility yesterday said that that a competitive request for offers (RFO) that it launched in July resulted in awards for six separate projects totalling 387MW, each with four hours discharge duration (1,548MWh). PG&E has put those projects before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for approval.

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“The next few years will be pivotal for the deployment and integration of utility-scale battery energy storage onto the grid,” PG&E SVP for energy policy and procurement, Fong Wan, said.

“PG&E has awarded contracts for battery energy storage projects totaling more than 1,000 MW of capacity to be deployed through 2023, all of which contribute to meeting California's ambitious clean energy goals while ensuring grid efficiency and reliability, reducing the need to build additional fossil fuel generation plants, and keeping customer costs affordable.”

The utility had been ordered by the CPUC to procure at least 716.9MW of system reliability resources to pre-emptively solve expected electric system reliability issues in California that will result from the retirement of several large-scale fossil fuel generation assets including AES’ 1,200MW Alamitos Generating Station natural gas plant.

The state’s load-serving entities, which includes the other two IOUs – Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and an assortment of public utilities and community choice aggregators (CCAs), were instructed by CPUC to procure a total of 3.3GW of those system reliability resources in that ruling, which was issued in November 2019.

PG&E’s latest procurements, as well as a 423MW procurement announced in May, will take it past its required target, with 50% of resources needing to come online by August 2021, 75% by August 2022 and 100% by August 2023.

New four-hour duration projects in the 387MW procurement up for CPUC approval:

Awarded project name Output/Capacity Location Contract length Awardee
AMCOR Project 27MW / 108MWh Distributed behind-the-meter batteries in PG&E service area 15 years Nexus Renewables US Inc.
Lancaster Battery Storage 127MW / 508MWh Transmission-connected standalone battery system in Lancaster, Los Angeles County, California 15 years Lancaster Battery Storage LLC.
LeConte Energy Storage Project 40MW / 160MWh Transmission-connected standalone battery system in Calexico, Imperial County, California 15 years LeConte Energy Storage, LLC (subsidiary of developer LS Power)
North Central Valley Energy Storage Project 132MW / 528MWh Transmission-connected battery resource in Linden, San Joaquin County, California 15 years North Central Valley Energy Storage LLC (subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources Development)
Daggett 2 BESS Project 46MW / 184MWh Transmission-connected battery project colocated with Daggett BESS 3 Project, Daggett, San Bernardino County, California 15 years Daggett Solar Power 2, LLC (subsidiary of Global Infrastructure Partners)
Daggett 3 BESS Project 15MW / 60MWh Transmission-connected battery project colocated with Daggett BESS 2 Project, Daggett, San Bernardino County, California 15 years Daggett Solar Power 3, LLC (subsidiary of Global Infrastructure Partners)

Fellow IOU SCE recently said it has now brought its total amount of procured and contracted energy storage capacity to just over 2GW, with SCE targeting the deployment of 30GW of utility-scale and 10GW of distributed energy storage by 2045 in order to help California meet its 2045 target of 100% carbon emissions-free electricity.

SCE announced a 590MW procurement of new battery storage in early December, on top of a 770MW procurement announced earlier in the year. In commenting ahead of CPUC’s November system reliability ruling, the utility had made firm comments on the potential impending shortfall of electricity capacity on California’s grid.

A combination of factors including retirement of fossil fuel plants, the reduction in the Effective Load Carrying Capability (ELCC) of solar and wind plants (their ability to contribute power to the grid when most needed during peak times) and reliance on electricity imports could mean so-called resource adequacy reliability shortfall during next year could be as much as 5,500MW, the company said.

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