By - Jim Vess

PG&E proposes world’s largest battery storage project to replace natural gas plants

Energize Weekly, July 11, 2018

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has proposed the world’s largest battery storage project—2.3 gigawatts—to replace three natural gas plants.

The San Francisco-based utility filed its request for approval with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which in January had given PG&E a green light to solicit bids for the project. PG&E issued a request for projects on Feb. 28.

The battery storage would replace three Calpine gas-fired units that would otherwise be under contract to ensure reliability.

Calpine and the California Independent System Operator sought approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the so-called reliability must-run contracts for the gas plants.

PG&E and the CPUC opposed the approvals. The CPUC said there were cleaner and cheaper alternatives, such as battery storage.

The PG&E proposal consists of three separate projects, including what would be the world’s largest lithium-ion battery, a 300-megawatt (MW), 1,200-megawatt-hour (MWh) storage project by Vistra Energy-Dynegy Marketing and Trade LLC.

The utility would also build its own 182.5-MW lithium-ion storage system within the PE&E’s Moss Landing substation.

Micronoc Inc., a company specializing in distributed energy, would do a 10-MW aggregation of behind-the-meter batteries at customer sites in the South Bay, in the vicinity the Moss Landing substation.

Hummingbird Energy LLC was also chosen to build a 75-MW lithium-ion storage facility, which would also be located in the South Bay.

The discharge duration for all four projects would be four hours.

“Energy storage plays an increasingly important role in California’s clean energy future, and while it has been a part of PG&E’s power mix for decades—starting with the Helms Pumped Storage Plant in the 1980’s—recent decreases in battery prices are enabling energy storage to become a competitive alternative to traditional solutions,” Roy Kuga, PG&E’s vice president, grid integration and innovation, said in a statement.

If approved by the CPUC, the first of PG&E’s proposed projects is scheduled to come online by the end of 2019, with the other projects scheduled to come online by the end of 2020. 

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