California regulators propose replacing PG&E natural gas plants with energy storage

State regulators want Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to replace three natural gas plants with energy storage, a move that represents another significant step toward a clean energy future.

The California Public Utilities Commission will vote Jan. 11 on the proposal that would require PG&E to seek clean alternatives to replace the three fossil-fuel plants.

Houston-based Calpine, which owns the plants, and the California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s electric grid, argue that the gas-fueled plants are needed to ensure reliability in the local areas they serve.

The three Northern California plants — in Feather River, Yuba and Metcalf — don’t have long-term contracts with utilities, but have been identified by Cal-ISO as facilities that should remain in operation to support the electric grid when needed. 

Regulators said in a press release Wednesday that any potential needs the natural gas plants provide can be met with clean energy, particularly battery storage.

“Energy storage is a clean energy resource that can be fast-responding, reliable and constructed in a short time frame,” the commission said in its statement.

In January, Tesla Inc. and Southern California Edison unveiled one of the world’s largest energy storage facilities, which was ordered up and installed in three months.

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