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California To Use Natural Gas Again To Keep Lights On After Drought, Wildfires Left Them With No Choice

California natural gas storage
California natural gas storage (Union of Concerned Scientists blog)

California has been approved to increase the amount of natural gas they can store at a facility in Los Angeles, which has suffered a devastating leak six years ago. This is to ramp up energy supplies in the state after drought and wildfires affected their electrical grid.

Aliso Canyon natural gas storage

Aliso Canyon natural gas storage methane leak (Photo: EARTHWORKS)

Some California Natural Gas Power Plants Allowed to Operate

In September, The Orange County Register reported that the Biden administration has given California an emergency order to allow some natural gas power plants in the state to operate without pollution restrictions. The US Department of Energy said that this decision is made to shore up California’s tight electricity supplies.

The Independent System Operator, California’s grid operator, has asked the order in a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm due to the needed additional power supplies to keep the lights on during extreme heat in the state.

This year is the second time California has sought and received such an order from the federal government after last year. The last time they had asked for similar relief was in 2000 because of an electricity crisis when energy producers tried to manipulate the market.

California Approved to Boost Capacity of Underground Storage Facility of Natural Gas

According to Reuters, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has allowed a plan in a unanimous decision to increase the capacity of the Aliso Canyon underground storage facility of SoCalGas for up to 41 billion cubic feet, which is 20% more than the allowed capacity before the drought and wildfires last year left them with no choice.

For many years, the growth of fossil fuel infrastructure in California is restricted to achieving its goal of producing all of its electricity from clean sources by 2045. But both California and Texas have faced challenges in their electrical grids in the past months.

The CPUC stands with its decision to ramp up storage of natural gas at Aliso Canyon as necessary to maintain reliability despite calls in the state to close the facility.