A new study, jointly conducted by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) – the entity responsible for overseeing much of California’s electric grid – First Solar, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), demonstrates the untapped potential of utility-scale solar. The study shows that utility-scale solar can provide key services needed to ensure electric grid stability and reliability – better known as ancillary services – at levels comparable to conventional, fossil fuel driven resources.
California needs to reduce reliance on natural gas for ancillary services
In CAISO’s market, ancillary services are overwhelmingly provided by natural gas-fired resources, and their share of the pie has been increasing in recent years.
This growing reliance on natural gas for ancillary services merits attention for many reasons. Read More »
As he settles into his final two years as California’s longest-serving Governor, Jerry Brown has limited time to finalize his energy and climate policy legacy. Meanwhile, with a new crop of state legislators and two new appointees at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California has a fresh set of actors who will be actively questioning the way things are — and the way things should be.
While there are a lot of economic sectors that will be under the microscope for the next two years, for natural gas policy, these five key opportunities will likely have the most relevance. Read More »
After months of speculation, the California agency in charge of setting standards for oil and gas operations (“DOGGR”) this week announced a pair of meetings to take public comment on the reopening of the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility.
This development stems from legislation passed in 2016 (SB 380), and is expected to be among the final steps before Southern California Gas Corporation (SoCalGas) is allowed to restart limited use of the facility. So, while it’s critical for the state to get its decisions right for safety and near-term electric reliability related to Aliso, to fully comply with SB 380, the decisions being made also need to take into account the larger issues facing California today. Read More »
Yesterday, the Southern California Gas Company filed for permission to resume operations through approved wells at its Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, saying it has completed key safety tests. The facility has been offline over the last year, after it sprung one of the largest gas leaks ever recorded.
Efforts to bring the facility online – and the challenges for the region’s electricity system if Aliso stays offline – underscore the need to address these issues from a broader, longer term perspective.
In addition to supplying gas to homes and businesses, the giant storage field served 17 major gas fired electric generating plants in the region. When a link as important as Aliso Canyon fails, the reliability implications for the electric grid are serious. Read More »
When the gusher of methane pouring out of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field was discovered last October 23, it almost instantly transformed the sleepy Los Angeles suburb of Porter Ranch into the site of one of the biggest environmental disasters in recent history. It would ultimately take four months to stop the massive leak. According to a new report released today, it pumped nearly 100,000 tons of methane into the atmosphere.
Now, a year later, the question: What’s been done to fix the problem, and to prevent future blowouts – either at Aliso Canyon, or the 400 similar facilities in more than 30 states? The answer is, while there’s been some progress, it’s not nearly enough.
The good news is that methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is down slightly, thanks to a combination of stronger safeguards starting to take effect, along with a decline in new drilling projects due to an overall market cooling.
Operators report that methane pollution from onshore oil and gas production is down about 3.8% in 2015 from 2014. However, overall greenhouse gas emissions from all reporting segments in the oil and gas sector are only down 1.6%.
Sensible methane standards are starting to work
Some in industry will undoubtedly point to the new numbers as evidence that new emission rules are unnecessary. In fact, the figures show that sensible safeguards are responsible for much of the progress. Read More »