Energy Storage

Calif. utility seeks approval for 568 MW of storage

Pacific Gas & Electric is seeking approval from California utility regulators for four energy storage projects that total approximately 568 megawatts.

The lithium-ion battery storage projects will be used to replace Calpine’s 600-MW Metcalf power plant, 44-MW Feather River and 48-MW Yuba City plants, which are operating under reliability must-run contracts with the California Independent System Operator.

The projects, proposed Friday at the California Public Utilities Commission, include: the 300-MW Vistra Moss Landing project with a Vistra subsidiary; the 182.5-MW Moss Landing project with Tesla; the 75-MW Hummingbird project with Hummingbird Energy; and the 10-MW mNOC AERS project with Micronoc, according to an “advice letter” filed at the PUC. Each project can deliver four hours of continuous energy. The filing submitted by PG&E did not break out megawatt-hour figures for the projects.

In a Tweet, the CPUC said that PG&E has “submitted one of the largest battery storage proposals in history for our consideration.”

The Vistra and Hummingbird projects will connect to the transmission system while the Micronoc project aggregates distribution-connected, customer-sited resources. PG&E will own the Tesla project, which will participate in CAISO markets, according to the application.

Financial terms of the deals are confidential. The Micronoc project is slated to start operating late next year and the other three projects are expected online by the end of 2020.

“Recent decreases in battery prices are enabling energy storage to become a competitive alternative to traditional solutions,” said Roy Kuga, PG&E vice president for grid integration and innovation. “As a result, we believe that battery energy storage will be even more significant in enhancing overall grid reliability, integrating renewables, and helping customers save energy and money.”

The proposal grew out of a January order by the PUC that directed San Francisco-based PG&E to issue a solicitation for energy storage or renewable resources to address the capacity deficiencies and voltage issues that led to the RMR contracts.

The proposed projects may help address future needs, according to PG&E.

“Given that additional gas-fired generation in these three local sub-areas are also expected to have difficulty making sufficient market revenue to support profitable operations, there is risk of additional retirements in the future, which would reduce available capacity to meet [local capacity requirement] need,” PG&E said. “The storage contracts presented in this [advice letter] will help mitigate the impacts of future retirements by adding capacity to the respective local subarea.”

PG&E sought only energy storage resources and received 29 offers, according to the application.

PG&E is also building several transmission projects to address deficiencies the utility faces south of San Francisco.

The PUC requires the state's three investor-owned utilities to procure 1,325 MW of storage by 2020, with PG&E's share totaling 580 MW.

GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association expect annual storage deployments to grow to about 560 MW this year, up from 215 MW last year, according to a report released in June. The consulting firm and trade group expect deployments to reach about 1,000 MW next year and about 3,700 MW in 2023.