Last October, a rupture in the Aliso Canyon natural gas reservoir caused a methane gas spill that evacuated over 8,000 people and released 1.6 million pounds of methane into the atmosphere. The Aliso Canyon leak is the worst in U.S. history. After these events, the Aliso Canyon facility was closed. It had been feeding the network of natural gas peaker plants in the Los Angeles basin, but was no longer able to store the fuel safely.
Los Angeles still needs an electric energy solution that guarantees reliability during peak times. Buildings in the basin will need more natural gas for heat as the winter weather draws near. These demands apply pressure to the energy system, exposing the Los Angeles basin to a greater risk of blackouts.
After the leak, California Governor Jerry Brown issued a state of emergency, and the California Public Utilities Commission mandated an accelerated procurement for energy storage. Southern California Edison and other utilities were directed to seek out a utility-scale storage solution that could be operational by December 31, 2016. Unlike traditional electric generators, batteries can be deployed rapidly at scale and do not need any water or gas pipelines.
Last week, Tesla was chosen to provide a 20 MW/80 MWh Powerpack system at the Southern California Edison Mira Loma substation. Once complete, the system will be the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world. Fully charged, the system will hold enough energy to power over 2,500 households for a day or charge 1,000 Tesla vehicles.
Thanks to the Gigafactory, the system will be complete in three months. During off-peak hours, the system will charge using electricity from the grid and during peak hours it will deliver electricity to help maintain the operation of Southern California Edison’s electrical infrastructure, which feeds over 15 million residents.