Tight Control of Power Needed to Avoid Summer Outages

May 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Power reserves will be adequate to keep lights on and air conditioners running during the hot summer months across California, according to a report released Wednesday by the state’s electrical grid operator, which noted some “deft management” will be needed in Southern California due to a natural gas shortage.

Officials with the California Independent System Operator noted that despite the shortage caused by the massive Aliso Canyon storage facility gas leak in Porter Ranch, the agency has taken steps to limit the possibility of electrical-service interruptions.

“The natural gas issues facing Southern California this summer will require deft management, particularly during hot days when power plants fueled by natural gas are needed to meet peak demand,” Cal-ISO CEO/President Steve Berberich said. “The ISO has moved quickly to put into place new mechanisms to reduce the impact of gas curtailments on electric reliability. We are also
asking consumers to respond to calls for energy conservation on days we call a Flex Alert.”

In April, a Cal-ISO power-reliability assessment concluded that the area’s natural gas shortage attributable to the leak could lead to power outages on as many as 14 days in the greater Los Angeles area. The report noted that natural gas is used to power electrical plants that “play a central role meeting regional electrical demand,” and the limited operations at Aliso Canyon “create a distinct possibility of electricity service interruptions in the coming summer months.”

Some critics blasted the report as an effort to push for a faster re-start of full operations at Aliso Canyon.
Southern California Gas Co. officials, meanwhile, said they would be working with various regulatory agencies “to provide a continued supply of dependable gas and electric services in the region.”

The Cal-ISO assessment released Wednesday outlines a series of technical steps the agency has taken to prepare for possible gas shortages and threats to electrical reliability. It notes that although the gas shortage is an issue, the chance of a power outage on any given day “would depend on local constrained conditions within Southern California as well as the extent to which the transmission system and available supply is capable of absorbing gas curtailment in real time.”

According to the report, Cal-ISO “is increasing its operational coordination with SoCalGas as well as (the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) to increase awareness of changing operational conditions and be ready to act appropriately to mitigate risks to gas and electric reliability.”

The Aliso Canyon gas leak was discovered Oct. 23 and was capped on Feb. 18.

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