California agencies to compensate for loss of Aliso Canyon storage

State and local energy agencies in California released a plan April 5 to help preserve reliability of electrical service this summer in the greater Los Angeles area following the major natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage facility.

Currently, Aliso Canyon is prohibited from injecting and storing more gas until a comprehensive safety review is completed and the facility’s wells are deemed safe or removed from service.

The plan was authored by the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, California Independent System Operator, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It concludes that “Aliso Canyon plays an essential role in maintaining both natural gas and electric reliability in the greater Los Angeles area. As a result, the facility’s limited current operations create a distinct possibility of electricity service interruptions in the coming summer months.” Considering this threat, the four agencies worked together to develop a draft action plan that calls for 18 measures to reduce the possibility of electrical interruptions, including a call for greater conservation from residents.

The Aliso Canyon facility has operated for decades to provide gas to local customers and electric power plants, and has never before been constrained at current levels. A detailed technical assessment by the four agencies found that, without any use of Aliso Canyon gas supplies, the region faces up to 14 days this summer with gas shortages to electrical power plants that could be large enough to interrupt electrical service to utility customers.

In response to this risk, the four agencies identified actions to reduce the possibility of electrical interruptions including the use of 15 billion cubic feet of natural gas that was preserved in the Aliso Canyon facility, through order of the CPUC, for use during periods of peak demand to avoid energy interruptions.