PG&E Pursuing California Power Project Sans Natural Gas
In keeping with a long-term goal to reduce nuclear and natural gas-fired power generation, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has begun to wind down its reliance through distributed renewable and energy efficiency projects in Oakland.
Instead of replacing a 40-year-old jet fuel-powered generation plant operated by Dynegy Corp. with natural gas, PG&E has launched the Oakland Clean Energy Initiative, which would use a series of alternatives.
“It would be a cleaner and more affordable option than the traditional approach,” a utility spokesperson said.
The proposal, still in its early stages, calls for PG&E to deploy a combination of energy resources, including storage, efficiency and electric-system upgrades, to ensure reliability for Oakland and the state grid operator, which uses the existing central power plant as a reliability-must-run (RMR) facility.
While noting that there are a number of approvals and bidding processes to surmount, CEO Geisha Williams said the project would be a “milestone” and a new model for other California cities and beyond. She said various local government, political, union and environmental leaders have been brought into the planning process.
“If the proposal is approved, it will mark the first time that local clean energy resources are proactively deployed as an alternative to fossil fuel generation to provide transmission reliability,” the utility’s spokesperson said.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf cited multiple potential benefits for the city.
“It is not every day that you get to make the air cleaner, improve the health and quality of life for your residents, and support green jobs, but that’s what this project will do for Oakland,” Schaaf said.
PG&E plans to work with the East Bay Community Energy organization to solicit requests for offers (RFO) from distributed energy providers. This process is expected to turn up projects that collectively represent 20-45 MW.
The overall PG&E proposal is scheduled to go to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) in its annual transmission planning process and a decision is expected in early 2018.
With CAISO’s approval, PG&E would begin the RFO process and make the necessary filings for cost recovery.