PG&E expands energy storage initiatives

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) strengthened its commitment to a clean energy future with the presentation of six energy storage contracts totaling 165 MW to the California Public Utilities Commission for review and approval in December of 2017. California’s Energy Storage Decision requires investor-owned utilities to procure 1,325 MW of storage by 2020. PG&E’s share is 580 MW. Since 2015, PG&E has signed contracts for 79 MW of new energy storage capability.

By the end of 2017, PG&E forecasts that about 33% of its retail electric deliveries will come from renewable sources.

Storage plays an increasingly important role for California energy companies as they work to achieve the state’s ambitious clean energy goals. By the end of 2017, PG&E forecasts that about 33% of its retail electric deliveries will come from renewable sources. Energy storage will help integrate many of those resources, such as wind and solar, which are intermittent or provide peak output during times of low demand.

Energy storage has been a part of PG&E’s power mix for decades, starting with the Helm’s Hydro-electric Facility and continuing with pilot projects such as the 2-MW Battery Storage Pilot at the Vacaville Substation and the 4-MW Yerba Buena Battery Energy Storage System located on the property of Silicon Valley storage technology company HGST.

In December of 2016, PG&E issued a request for offers (RFO) to solicit proposals for energy storage projects. The projects were required to be between 1 MW and 50 MW and needed to be operational no later than the end of 2024.

In addition to third-party owned storage offers, PG&E identified a distribution substation where it would like to consider energy storage projects on distribution circuits to defer distribution investments. PG&E also identified three sites where it owns and operates solar photovoltaic facilities where energy storage could be added.

Martin Wyspianski, PG&E Senior Director for Energy Portfolio Procurement and Policy, said he was pleased with the progress PG&E has made toward meeting California’s renewable energy and storage goals.

“As our clean energy portfolio grows, so does the importance of storage technology. These contracts and the storage capacity they represent will help us better integrate our growing renewable generation sources, and bring increased reliability to the grid. They are an important milestone in our progress toward a clean energy future,” Wyspianski said.

Over the last 12 months, PG&E staff reviewed applications from numerous vendors interested in participating in the storage market. In seeking offers for storage projects, PG&E looked for projects which met at least one of three goals – grid optimization, renewable energy integration and greenhouse gas reduction.

The six projects selected are lithium-ion battery projects. The first projects are due to come online in November of 2020.

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